Wall Street veteran joins Westport

Howard Fife, fresh off a stint at investment bank Jeffries, will add high yield and distressed investing expertise to the firm.

Veteran Wall Street executive Howard Fife will join Westport Capital Partners, the private equity real estate firm launched last year by former Oaktree pro Russell Bernard, as a principal and head trader of the firm.

“We are continuing to grow a first rate team and are pleased to bring Howard on board as his experience in the high yield and distressed classes will help round out the firm’s expertise in those areas,” Bernard said in a statement.

Fife comes to the Westport, Connecticut-based firm from the high yield and distressed investing group of investment bank Jeffries, where he worked with large hedge funds. Before he joined Jeffries in 2002, he was also a director at Lazard, Freres in the international high yield and distressed trading department and worked on the launch of their debt recovery fund in 2001.

Bernard, the former real estate portfolio manager for Oaktree Capital Management, launched Westport in December. The firm is currently raising its first fund, WCP Real Estate Fund I, and intends to invest in a broad range of assets including office, retail, industrial, entertainment and leisure related-properties, multi-family and single-family housing, healthcare properties and hotels.

Westport was one of two firms that received financing from SkyBridge Capital Partners, which invests in emerging hedge funds and investment funds. SkyBridge is backed by MSD Capital, which manages the family fortune of Dell computer founder Michael Dell.

Fife graduated from Brown University with a bachelor of arts in 1981 and received a masters in business administration from the New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1985.