Fortress co-founder Edens relinquishes CEO role

Former Fannie Mae chief executive officer Daniel Mudd will lead the New York-based private equity, real estate and hedge fund manager. It is part of a main board reshuffle aimed at enabling senior executives to focus on the group’s portfolio.

Private equity, real estate and hedge fund manager Fortress Investment Group has named board director Daniel Mudd, 50, as its incoming chief executive officer.

The former CEO of the Federal National Mortgage Association, the US mortgage giant commonly called Fannie Mae, Mudd will assume the position from 11 August. He replaces the firm’s co-founder and largest shareholder, Wesley Edens, who has held the CEO role since 1998.

Edens becomes co-chairman alongside current president and board member Peter Briger.

Mudd’s appointment forms part of a reshuffle that the firm said would enable its executives to spend more time focused on its portfolio.

“These are truly unprecedented investment markets that play directly into Fortress's strengths and expertise. We are energised by the investment opportunities we see emerging over the next several years. However, we recognize that these dynamic markets require the firm's principals to be single-mindedly focused on investments, both existing and new opportunities that will create value for our investors,” Edens said in a statement. “The expansion of the team with a CEO of Dan's caliber and skill set really rounds out the partnership.”

The firm’s principals will continue to own 70 percent of Fortress, according to the statement.

In addition to running the firm’s day-to-day business, Mudd will be responsible for developing its global growth strategy, internal policies and infrastructure among other duties.

Edens noted that Mudd’s working relationship with senior Fortress executives dates back to 1997, when he was president of GE Capital’s Asia pacific division. Mudd joined Fannie Mae in 2000 and prior to becoming its CEO in 2004, held roles including chief operating officer, vice-chairman and director. He left the stricken mortgage lender in September 2008.

In addition to his roles at Fannie Mae and GE Capital, Mudd also held financial services and management consulting positions at the World Bank, Ayers Whitmore and global document management company Xerox.  The University of Virginia graduate was also an officer in the US Marine Corps.

New York-based Fortress managed assets valued at approximately $26.5 billion as of 31 March.

Shares in Fortress closed yesterday on $3.25 a share, giving the firm a market capitalization of approximately $1.3 billion.