January 20, 2015 / 8:27 PM / 5 years ago

Former JP Morgan dealmakers launch 'friendly' activist fund

Jan 20 (Reuters) - Two former JP Morgan Chase & Co dealmakers said on Tuesday they had launched an activist fund that aims to work collaboratively with the boards of companies it invests in, rather than confront them as most hedge funds do.

The new hedge fund firm, Hudson Executive Capital LP, is headed by Douglas Braunstein, a former JPMorgan chief financial officer, and James Woolery, the investment bank’s one-time co-head of North American mergers and acquisitions.

It has enlisted 14 current and former chief executives as co-founders and co-investors in the fund, raising $250 million, Hudson said in a statement.

Traditional activist investors, such as Carl Icahn and William Ackman, tend to agitate for change, often trying to replace a company’s board or management. Targeted companies typically push back, arguing that hedge funds only care about making a quick buck at the expense of other shareholders’ long-term interests.

Braunstein and Woolery said in an interview they do not intend to agitate in that way. They added that they believe their combined 50 years of experience providing expertise in dealmaking and strategic advice will be viewed as attractive to management at the companies where they will invest.

The idea for the new fund was born as Braunstein and Woolery were flying back from a CEO retreat three years ago, they said.

The two revisited the idea in mid-2014 and hatched a plan to bring in current and former CEOs as investors over hamburgers at Braunstein’s Hudson Valley, New York residence, they said in the interview.

“Doug and Jim have become two of the most sought after counselors on Wall Street,” said Universal Health Services Inc Chief Executive Alan Miller, one of the investors in Hudson.

Hudson is not the first firm to market itself as a constructive activist. San Francisco-based ValueAct Capital Management LP and Stamford Connecticut-based Blue Harbor Group LP, for example, also posit themselves as such. (Reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Paul Simao)

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