Nielsen has been Darby's general counsel since the firm's inception in 1994. Before that, he served as Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Finance at the US Treasury Department. Nielsen began his career as an attorney at law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He has a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University and a law degree from Columbia University School of Law.
Nielsen had worked with Nicholas Brady at the Treasury Department and, when Brady's term as Treasury Secretary ended, followed him to start Darby. Brady had authored an earlier plan to resolve the debt crisis in the emerging markets, but what ensued for the nascent firm focused on Latin America was a series of new crises: Mexican peso, Brazilian real, Russia, Argentina and the bursting of the internet bubble. ?It was a decade of wild times,? recalls Nielsen, pointing out that Darby is very careful in its investment approach. ?We have a long term perspective and we believe in picking the right partners and businesses to get through the tough times.? That approach has served Darby well ? the firm has expanded to Asia and Europe, and was acquired by Franklin Templeton in 2003. ?We derive a lot of benefits from our parent's global platform,? notes Nielsen.
RULE OF LAW:
Managing the legalities of Darby's seven funds across four asset classes takes three in-house lawyers and extensive work with outside counsel. ?It's very good to work with local counsels because they're attuned to what's happening in their market and their business community,? says Nielsen, who observes that legal systems can vary widely from market to market, even within the same region. He adds: ?Even if you have concerns about the enforceability of a contract, if you have a transaction where everyone's interests are aligned, it helps.?
EYE ON INVESTMENTS:
Nielsen oversees legal work at Darby and has responsibilities in fund administration and accounting, human resources, tax and corporate operations. ?I find that the legal work tends to intersect a lot with the accounting and tax work, particularly as I put together and structure the deals,? he says. What he enjoys most, however, is the investment process. ?All of the lawyers here are deeply integrated into the investment process from the earliest stage through exit.?
Having been born and raised out West, Nielsen enjoys fishing, shooting and hiking ? activities which, like private equity, require a great deal of patience. He also has a deep interest in history. A fan of colonial American history and its comparable period in England, Nielsen resides in Virginia, near Mount Vernon, Williamsburg, Jamestown and many civil war battlefields. ?We try to visit as many historical sites as we can,? he says.