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Svetlana Lee

Svetlana Lee
Varna Capital

In 2007, Svetlana Lee was working as an analyst with New York–based hedge fund firm Greenlight Capital. The U.S. housing market was suffering, and Lee was looking hard at the balance sheet of investment bank Lehman Brothers, which had a large exposure to mortgages. Ironically, Lee, who was born in Bulgaria and moved to the U.S. to attend Dartmouth College, had started out on Wall Street in 1996 in the Lehman investment banking analyst program.

Lee’s research laid the groundwork for Greenlight’s decision to short Lehman’s stock and for the now-legendary speech that Greenlight founder David Einhorn gave at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in the spring of 2008 questioning the bank’s balance sheet. Einhorn’s presentation marked the beginning of the end for Lehman, which filed for bankruptcy just four months later. By then Lee, 37, had left to form Varna Capital.

Before Greenlight, Lee worked at hedge funds Perry Capital in New York and Boston-based Baupost Group. She has tried to incorporate the best lessons from these top firms at Varna, whose $140 million long-short value-focused fund keys on capital preservation and achieving superior returns.

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