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Hedge Fund Places Faith in Euro Zone

Marc Lasry has never been afraid to go his own way.

Marc Lasry, left, chief of Avenue Capital, and Richard P. Furst, who directs the company’s European strategy.

While other Wall Streeters who supported President Obama in 2008 are rushing to distance themselves from the White House, Mr. Lasry remains one of the president’s most loyal backers.

He loaded up on Ford Motor bonds in late 2008 and early 2009 when it seemed that the company might join Chrysler and General Motors in bankruptcy, and made a bundle when it did not.

And after markets rallied in 2009 and 2010, instead of holding out for more gains, he took money off the table and returned $9 billion to investors in his hedge fund.

Now, even as Europe’s economic problems worsen and the markets punish giants like Spain and Italy, Mr. Lasry is betting on a long-term comeback for the Continent. This month, his hedge fund, Avenue Capital, finished raising nearly $3 billion for a fund that will invest in the debt of troubled European companies.

He has committed roughly $75 million of his own money to the new fund. That’s still a small part of his estimated $1.3 billion fortune, but Mr. Lasry is among a coterie of hedge fund and private equity managers who are gambling that the euro zone will stay intact and revive over the long run.

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