... in the wake of a bribery scandal that spooked clients and blew away a third of its assets, the fund's fate is in many ways now in the hands of a little-known 34-year-old named Jimmy Levin... Back in February, Och shocked many on Wall Street by elevating Levin, the star of the firm's credit business, to co-chief investment officer and handing him an incentive package of $280 million. It's the kind of crazy pay you don't hear about in the industry much these days, and Och wagered a small personal fortune to make it happen, relinquishing 30 million of his own shares.


Levin, who began working at Och-Ziff in 2006, is a largely unknown quantity beyond the firm's immediate universe. But he has a reputation there for something of a golden touch. His rise started in the aftermath of the financial crisis, as he persuaded the man who's now his co-CIO, David Windreich, to gamble on the rubbles of structured credit assets tied to the U.S. housing market and, later, on similarly roughed up securities in Europe, including Spanish regional debt that paid off.

The firm's main credit fund has turned in average gains of 13 percent since its 2011 inception, including an 18 percent return last year that made it one of the top performing funds in the industry. Back in 2012, credit trades guided by Levin notched $2 billion, accounting for more than half of the firm's total gains that year. The credit unit was pulling in such outsize returns that Levin was named global head of credit in 2013.

That growth, in fairness, came in the middle of a bull market -- junk-rated corporate bonds, for example, have returned more than 185 percent since the end of 2008 -- that lifted all credit assets for an extraordinary run, so much so that it can be argued it would've been hard not to make a lot of money.

"Was it luck? I don't know, maybe, I'm not sure it really matters," said Mike Rosen, chief investment officer at Angeles Investment Advisors, who has put money into Och-Ziff's credit-opportunities fund. "I do want to invest in lucky people -- that's better than investing with unlucky people."


Och and Levin met when Levin was a counselor and water-skiing coach at a camp in Wisconsin where Och's children spent part of their summer. At first, Och sidestepped the younger man's pleas for a job at the hedge fund. After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in computer science, Levin worked for Sagamore Hill Capital Management and then Dune Capital, the now defunct hedge fund founded by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Och finally hired Levin as a distressed analyst.

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