DIFESA CAPITAL MANAGEMENT LEADERSHIP
Difesa is anchored by an accomplished leadership team, including Founders Peter Cohen, Andrew Cohen and Greg Davis. Andrew and Greg bring 18 years of experience in corporate finance, activist investing, distressed investing, bank debt financing, mezzanine financing, SPAC investing, PIPE underwriting/investing, merger arbitrage, and convertible arbitrage
Founder and Chief Investment Officer
Andrew Cohen was recently one of two partners overseeing the Ramius Event Driven and Merger Arbitrage business within Cowen Investment Management. From 2011 to 2018, Mr. Cohen co-founded and operated a nine-person team investing Cowen proprietary capital and fiduciary assets in merger arbitrage and event driven strategies. During his time with the firm the Ramius Merger Fund LLC had peak assets of $500 million and the Merrill Lynch Investment Solutions / Ramius Merger Arbitrage UCITS Fund had peak assets of $250 million.
Mr. Cohen joined Ramius in 2001. From 2001 to 2004 Mr. Cohen worked in several different capacities at Ramius. Mr. Cohen helped start the firm’s small cap value and activist business building, providing due diligence and financial analysis for Jeff Smith (CIO Starboard Value). During this period the firm executed successful proxy contests in Register.com and Nautica apparel. At the same time, Mr. Cohen supported the launch of a fund focused on mezzanine, second lien and senior secured loans to middle market companies. Mr. Cohen grew the firm’s loan portfolio to $150 million and then sold it to Wachovia, where the portfolio was rolled into a CLO structure. During this period Mr. Cohen also acted as the central business development analyst for Ramius LLC. In this role Mr. Cohen provided the Ramius management team with financial modeling capability and financial analysis for strategic business combinations and financings at the Ramius Parent company level.
From 2004 to 2009 Mr. Cohen was responsible for the majority of the private equity energy investments Ramius LLC made with its proprietary capital. Investments were focused on direct working interests, minerals rights and corporate private equity. Among the more successful investments was an investment in partnership with Blackstone Minerals, where Blackstone Minerals and Ramius, along with other partners, purchase 6.1 million gross acres of mineral rights across Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana. These investments yielded in excess of a 4.5x return on equity over 4.5 years. Another was an investment in partnership with the Sanchez Family of Houston Texas which yielded an exit following IPO of the partnership’s interests and attractive return.
From 2006 to 2008 Mr. Cohen worked with the Ramius Distressed team where he executed a successful investment strategy investing in distressed bank debt, high yield bonds, equities and reorganized equities. In September of 2008, when Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11, the distressed team was disbanded as all its securities were prime brokered at Lehman Brothers and were re-hypothecated and became unsecured claims in the Lehman bankruptcy.
From the fall of 2008 through 2010 Mr. Cohen worked with Jeff Smith to oversee, allocate capital to and manage risk of all the liquid strategies that served the Ramius multi strategy fund and the Ramius balance sheet account. This included PIPES, long/short equity, convertible arbitrage, small cap value and activist investing and long/short credit. During this period Mr. Cohen was overseeing in excess of $3 billion in long market value securities and investments. Concurrent with this management role, Mr. Cohen oversaw the wind down of these pools of capital by the end of 2010.
In 2011, Mr. Cohen Co-founded the Ramius Event Driven and Merger Arbitrage Team within Cowen Investment Management with his friend and colleague, Ethan Johnson. From 2011 to 2018 the partners managed significant proprietary capital for Cowen Inc, grew the Ramius Merger Fund from $50 million to $500 million in peak assets and grew the Ramius Merger Arbitrage UCITS Fund from $35 to $250 million in assets. Starting with Andrew and Ethan the Event Driven and Merger Arbitrage business grew from three to nine team members at its peak. As a founding partner and head of risk management, Mr. Cohen provided significant support to the investment team, oversaw portfolio risk management and was intricately involved in the investment underwriting process. He also traveled extensively in the United States and Europe, raising assets for the strategy.
Prior to joining Ramius, Mr. Cohen worked as an analyst in the investment banking and private equity groups at Thomas Weisel Partners.
Mr. Cohen received a B.A. in Public Policy from the Terry Sanford Institute at Duke University in 2000 and an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2006.
Greg Davis joined Difesa from Jefferies where he was the merger arbitrage desk strategist responsible for idea generation and collaborating with trading to mitigate principal risk. Greg brings an in-depth antitrust, M&A process and fundamental valuation research capability to the team. Greg also oversaw significant proprietary investments in merger arbitrage for Jefferies.
Prior to joining Jefferies, Mr. Davis worked with Mr. Cohen from 2011 to 2014 as an analyst for the Event Driven and Merger Arbitrage business at Ramius. Mr. Davis worked closely with Mr. Cohen to perform in-depth fundamental research and generated trade ideas for the portfolio managers. Mr. Davis participated in the growth of the Event Driven and Merger Arbitrage funds during his tenure at Ramius. Mr. Davis joined as the fourth member of the team and helped grow the business from $50 million to $500 million. As one of the primary analysts, Mr. Davis underwrote numerous investments and provided significant support to the portfolio managers.
Prior to Ramius, Mr. Davis received his MBA from Columbia Business School where he was a member of the value investing program.
Prior to Ramius, Mr. Davis had nine years of Investment banking experience ranging from general equity corporate finance to debt structuring/syndications. Notably, Mr. Davis was involved in many PIPE, IPO and follow-on financings at the start of his career in the SG Cowen Technology Investment Banking Group.
Mr. Davis received an A.B. in Economics from Princeton University in 2000 and an MBA from Columbia Business School in 2012.
Founder and Chairman
Peter A. Cohen is the founder of Peter Cohen LLC – an investment platform with holdings in tech, biotech, and an arbitrage fund – and Executive Chairman of Andover National Corporation, a start-up that invests in service providers and specialty manufacturing.
Until June 2018, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cowen Inc., a 100-year-old investment bank that specializes in serving health-care and technology companies. Cowen had been acquired in 2009 by Ramius Capital, a $13 billion alternative asset manager that was founded by Mr. Cohen in 1994. In the nine years after that transaction, Mr. Cohen oversaw the reinvigoration of Cowen’s business through seven acquisitions and a diversification of the bank’s revenue base. Entering 2018, he decided to turn over Cowen to his successor and devote all of his time to his investments.
From 1990-1994, Mr. Cohen worked with Republic New York Corporation, a bank holding company; launched an investment management firm; and represented companies in merger activities. He formed Republic New York Securities for Republic New York Corporation, and served as Vice Chairman and board member of the holding company.
Mr. Cohen spent the prior two decades rising through the ranks of the firm that would eventually become Shearson Lehman Brothers. He joined Shearson in 1971 as an equity analyst, but soon transitioned to become assistant to then-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sandy Weill. Over the following years the firm made a series of acquisitions, culminating in its merger with American Express in 1981. By that time, Mr. Cohen had risen to President and Chief Operating Officer. He was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1983, and Shearson continued to make acquisitions throughout the decade, becoming Shearson Lehman Brothers. When Mr. Cohen departed in 1990, the firm had grown to 23,000 employees in 700 offices around the world.
Mr. Cohen has been fortunate to serve on the boards of numerous public companies and industry bodies based in the United States and overseas. He has been a board member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Depository Trust Company, and the New York Federal Reserve’s Capital Markets Advisory Committee. He has served on the boards of three defense contractors – GRC International, Titan International Corporation, and L-3 Communications – as well as on the boards of other prominent US companies including American Express, Shearson Lehman Brothers, and Kroll Inc. He also spent 30 years on the board of the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, was a member of the New York City Opera, and continues to be a director of The Children’s Hearing Institute.
Outside the United States, he was a board member of Société Générale de Belgique, the Belgium holding company; Cerus, a French investment company; Olivetti, an Italian office products company; Telecom Italia, the Italian national phone company; and CIR International, an Italian holding company.
Today, he continues to be the Lead Director of Scientific Games Corporation, the largest US lottery operator and gaming-machine manufacturer, and is on the board of a technology company and two bio-tech companies.
Mr. Cohen grew up on Long Island and graduated from Ohio State University in 1968. He received his MBA degree from Columbia University in 1969.