Ex-Credit Suisse PE, RE exec to lead US bailout plan investments

The former vice president of Credit Suisse’s private equity operations, James Lambright – a specialist in real estate transactions – has been named the interim CIO of the US’ $700bn asset recovery programme.

A former private equity real estate executive at Credit Suisse has been named the interim chief investment officer for the US government’s $700 billion bailout programme.

James Lambright, currently head of the Export-Import Bank, will lead investments of the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) until a permanent chief investment officer can be found.

Before joining the Export-Import Bank (EIB) in 2001, Lambright was vice president of Credit Suisse First Boston’s private equity unit, specialising in real estate and venture capital transactions. He was appointed chairman of EIB by President George Bush in 2005.

A statement from the US Treasury said Lambright would provide “counsel” to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on how to implement the plan.

Private equity veterans have already said they are preparing themselves to take advantage of the TARP, which will see the government buy real estate-related assets from troubled financial organisations before auctioning them off. David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, said he and other private equity players would be among the biggest buyers.

However speaking before the US Senate Committee on banking, housing and urban affairs today, interim assistant secretary for financial stability Neel Kashkari, said the government was only at the “beginning” of understanding how the auctions would operate.

The Treasury, Kashkari said, was still designing the auction for the mortgage-backed securities purchase programme, while officials were trying to identify what type of whole loans should be purchased first and how to value them.

He said: “A programme as large and complex as this would normally take months – or even years – to establish. We don't have months or years. Hence, we are moving to implement the TARP as quickly as possible while working to ensure high quality execution.”