3 Degrees Asset Management, a private investment firm based in Singapore with over $400 million of assets under management, has hired Michael Gilmore as a managing principal. The move is in preparation for a new Asian distressed-debt fund that the firm plans to launch.

It already manages the Asian Debt Fund (ADF), which was recently awarded Best Asian Distressed Debt Fund for 2008 by AsianInvestor magazine. One of GilmoreÆs key responsibilities will be to serve as portfolio manager for a new ADF Special Opportunities portfolio.

GilmoreÆs background is Asian equities, with 12 years of experience as head of Asian consumer and media research for both Nomura and UBS, and previously head of Indonesian research at UBS. He has served as lead analyst on numerous regional IPOs.

ôComing to this with an equity background, one of my key roles will be to look at distressed debt opportunities with an equity component,ö Gilmore says. ôWeÆll be launching ADF Special Opportunities soon to exploit what we think are very interesting opportunities in this space.ö

The new strategy, dubbed ASO, will springboard off the investment strategies of the Asian Debt Fund, he explains: starting out the majority of investments from a distressed debt entry point, but then looking to hold the position for a longer duration, particularly the equity component, to maximise the potential upside within each position.

Gilmore complements the existing 3 Degrees team, which includes managing principal and founder Moe Ibrahim, a distressed-debt expert, as well as credit-structuring professional Jeff Tolk, who joined in April. GilmoreÆs IPO experience may come in handy should the firm look to exit positions under a private-equity scenario. He will also support the team on the core fund and help share oversight with Ibrahim, freeing some of his time to look for new opportunities.

Ibrahim says Gilmore ôjoins at a time when global default rates are rising and equity markets are hitting bear territory. As default rates rise, equity valuations will collapse, creating an opportunity to acquire world-class Asian companies at fire sale valuations.ö