Lehman Recruit Trades I-Banking for Shale Wildcatting

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the son of a United Nations diplomat to Haiti, Ivory Coast, Chad and Madagascar, and a Lehman Brothers recruit, Farid Guindo, 26, knows he can't take anything for granted.

Because of his father's U.N. dispatches, Guindo spent much of his childhood moving from country to country amid regime change and unrest. He'd lived in about a dozen countries by the time he was ready for college. Those travels amid instability may have also prepared Guindo for a career in finance that began with an investment banking internship at Lehman Brothers in the summer of 2008.

After a few years as an investment banking analyst in the natural resources group at Barclays Capital (BCS) and a stint as an energy analyst at commodities hedge fund Ospraie Management, Guindo struck out on his own in August 2012 to found Drill Capital, a fledgling money manager focused on energy investments.

Drill Capital is currently in the process of completing its first investment -- a $5.2 million project to build an 83-room Wyndham (WYN)-branded hotel in Carrollton, Ohio.

The hotel, which serves a 3,200 community tucked midway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh wouldn't appear to be an auspicious start, except that it sits on the fringe of Utica Shale basins in Carroll County that are increasingly in the gaze of drillers as large as Chesapeake Energy (CHK). Guindo expects that his small Wyndham could serve what may become a burgeoning shale drilling hub, and could lay the foundation for Drill Capital as an energy investor.

Stories like Guindo's may be indicative of the types of wildcatting careers that were started and began to flourish the aftermath of the financial crisis. Drill Capital's strategy to target infrastructure gaps in what many call a shale drilling revolution in the United States may also be a trend for energy-sector investors to watch in coming years.

By all accounts, Guindo, the former I-banker and hedge fund analyst, has spent the better half of 2013 negotiating licenses and building plans for his hotel, while also procuring its sinks, showers, televisions and beds. He is Drill Capital's only full-time worker.

TheStreet spoke to Guindo as he was in Carrollton to oversee the installation of the hotel's roof. It's a far cry from his former life on Wall Street.

The Buildup

Despite taking a summer internship with Lehman Brothers, a firm that would fall into bankruptcy within weeks of his return to McGill University for a final undergraduate year, Guindo's career in finance began with a strong start.

Barclays extended job offers to summer analysts after taking over Lehman's North American investment banking operations. The firm's natural resources investment banking team, built up by current investment banking head Skip McGee, is also a true Wall Street powerhouse.

Stationed in Barclays' Calgary offices, Guindo said he worked on a lot of joint venture deals that involved the firm's banking relationships around the world. By the end of his tenure at Barclays, the firm's natural resources group was also in the process of advising Kinder Morgan's (KMI) takeover of El Paso, a deal McGee said signified the bank could compete with the "big boys" on Wall Street.

In May of 2011, Guindo was poached from Barclays by hedge fund Ospraie Management, the Dwight Anderson-run firm that had been among the biggest players in the commodities industry before falling on hard times during the crisis and closing its flagship commodities fund. Guindo worked as an energy analyst for a long/short equities portfolio and says the role helped him build relationships on Wall Street and gain better insight into the opportunities in the energy sector.

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