Euromoney, November 11 2019
It was a bold call to launch a specialist credit business in Asia in 2009, but SC Lowy celebrates its 10th birthday as an established figure in distressed debt and high yield not just at home but also increasingly in Europe. Events in India, however, where the firm holds a position in Essar Steel, are testing its patience and resolve.
It is 10 years since Michel Lowy decided to leave his job running the strategic investment and distressed products group for Deutsche Bank in Asia and go it alone. A ballsy move: October 2009 was a lively time to try to launch a whole new business based on Asian credit.
But the result, SC Lowy, is going strong a decade later and its plans are, if anything, more ambitious than ever.
Euromoney meets Lowy in the firm’s Hong Kong head office, in a meeting room where a glorious lake and mountain landscape from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, fills every inch of the wall. This photo shows the location of an off-site – Lowy and his colleagues crossed the frozen lake on snowshoes – and today it serves as a useful circuit breaker during difficult days, a reminder of a life beyond the screens and phones in the trading room.
When you pick a market like this, there are plenty of difficult days.
SC Lowy is today a three-pronged business embracing sales and trading, asset management and banking, but it started out focused purely on Asian distressed debt sales and trading.
“Typically, when you invest in distressed debt you tend to be a contrarian investor,” says Lowy, who looks like a younger and considerably less creased Willem Dafoe. “I moved to Asia in 1997, when everyone was fleeing. So it’s natural that we would start our own business when most others are in fear and wondering what’s going to happen in the world.
“Cycles are like that: when you are a fundamentally driven investor, that’s what you do, you try to keep a cool head when everyone else does not, whether it’s on the way up or on the way down.”