A Biography of James “Jim” Dondero, the President and Co-Founder of Highland Capital Management

James Dondero is best known as the President of Highland Capital Management, one of the largest investment firms in the entire world. Highland Capital Management has about 13.7 billion dollars’ worth of assets under its management, easily making it one of the largest firms of its type in the United States of America. Mr. Dondero is also an innovator of CLOs, or collateralized loan obligations, in which the right to debt payments from large companies are purchased as an investment, in opposition to purchasing small-time, single accountholders’ accounts receivable.

Jim Dondero, as his friends, family, and business associates refer to him, started off his fruitful career at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, in which he studied both accounting and finance, a common-yet-demanding career path for people hoping to work in finance or accounting, either one. In 1984, less than three months before he graduated, Mr. Dondero secured a position at what’s now known as JP Morgan, known back then as Morgan Guaranty, as a financial analyst.

Shortly after graduating with two bachelor’s degrees from the McIntire School of Commerce, he found employment at American Express, having been known as one of the most popular credit card servicers for some years, in 1985. After only four years of employment, he worked his way into a position of managing $1,000,000,000 in securities by the time he left in 1989 to fill the role of CIO, chief investment officer, at GIC, a subsidiary owned by insurance company Protective Life.

It was in 1989 when GIC was started from scratch, only four years later working itself up to a valuation of $2,000,000,000 – his experience from American Express clearly showing – in 1993. This year Protective Life Insurance Corporation formed a 60/40 ownership slips between itself and the partnership of Mark Okada and James Dondero, called Protective Asset Management Company. in 1997, as if four years is James Dondero’s lucky career number, the pair bought out what used to be known as Protective Life Insurance, Jim’s former employer, and revamped it into Ranger Asset Management, so large it was even enlisted into the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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