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Boston hedge fund executive Scott Nathan joins State Department

Scott Nathan was a partner at Boston hedge fund firm Baupost.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry has hired Boston hedge fund executive Scott Nathan as a liaison to the business community, assisting American companies that want to do business abroad and foreign firms doing business here.

Nathan, 46, was a partner and chief risk officer at the Baupost Group, Boston’s largest hedge fund firm. A major fund-raiser for President Obama, Nathan is a well-known philanthropist in Boston, focused on environmental causes and serving on a variety of nonprofit boards.

Kerry’s office said he is bringing on the financial executive to play a major role in private sector outreach at the State Department. His title will be special representative for the Office of Commercial and Business Affairs.


“I took this job because Secretary Kerry told me about how committed he is to making the State Department the friend of American businesses abroad, and I wanted to help him and the rest of his economic team put that into action,’’ Nathan said in a statement. “I believe that in today’s interconnected world, foreign policy is economic policy, important for our companies and key to greater stability and prosperity abroad and more jobs and growth at home.’’

Nathan will report to Charles Rivkin, the newly confirmed assistant secretary for the Office of Economics and Business. Rivkin, a former entertainment industry executive, was most recently ambassador to France and Monaco.

The office is responsible for developing business policy, advocating for foreign businesses in the United States, and helping US businesses land contracts and alliances in foreign markets. Nathan is charged with building bridges between the State Department and the business community.

Nathan first met Kerry 12 years ago at a reelection kickoff, according to a State Department spokesman. Nathan had not been invited to the event, held at the home of Kerry’s brother. But he showed up to thank Kerry for his efforts to prevent oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the two wound up talking about how to press governments on global climate change.


Over the years, Nathan and Kerry have held conversations about the economy and tax incentives for investors, according to Kerry’s spokesman, Alec Gerlach. Nathan was one of Obama’s largest campaign bundlers, raising nearly $1 million in contributions for the president’s reelection bid. He has also made hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal contributions in recent years to Democrats running for office and to groups like the League of Conservation Voters, a supporter of pro-environment candidates, which he used to chair.

Nathan joined Baupost in 1995. He earned undergraduate, business, and law degrees from Harvard University and has worked extensively in foreign markets.

His departure last month from the highly successful hedge fund firm apparently did not come as a surprise to his colleagues, who knew he had other aspirations.

“Scott has long shown a deep interest in government service, and the opportunity for him to serve the nation is a perfect fit for someone of his experience, interests, and skills,” Baupost founder Seth Klarman said in a recent communication to clients.

Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.