advice


Last night, in an interview with CNBC, Carl Icahn had this to say about fellow hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and his recent bid with drugmaker Valiant Pharmaceuticals for Botox maker Allergan:

“We have our differences, but I never said he’s not a smart guy. I think the concept of this is good. I hope it works out better for him than Herbalife did, and I think it will…There’s nothing wrong with making a bid for a company and using someone else’s funds.”

Those of you who’ve kept up with Icahn and Ackman’s relationship know that Icahn saying he never said Ackman’s “not a smart guy” represents a complete 180 from his comments about the Pershing Square manager in the past. Those include but are not limited to:

  • To the New York Times: “How many times have judges been wrong? How many people have gone to the death chamber because they’re wrong? Ackman is dead wrong.”
  • On BloombergTV: “…it’s no secret I don’t like Ackman”
  • Also on BloombergTV: “I have no respect for him and I don’t like him and that’s not a secret.”
  • In the same interview on BloombergTV: “I dislike the guy, I don’t respect him, I’ve done business with him and he wasn’t forthright…that’s my opinion.”
  • Via press release: “To get the record straight, I never asked Ackman to be my friend.”
  • In the same press release: “Bill Ackman has recently stated ‘Carl Icahn is a great investor.’ I thank him but unfortunately I cannot return the compliment.”
  • On CNBC: “I was minding my own business in 2003 and I get a call from this Ackman guy and he’s like the crybaby in the school yard. I went to a tough school in Queens and they used to beat up the little Jewish boys and he was like these little Jewish boys crying saying the world was taking advantage of him. He was almost sobbing. And he’s in my office talking about this Hallwood deal and how I can help him. It’s like in the old song, I rue the day I ever met the guy.”
  • In the same interview on CNBC: “He’s the quintessential example of if you want a friend, get a dog.”
  • CNBC: “I wouldn’t invest with [Ackman] if [he] were the last man on earth.”

So to hear Icahn not only describe Ackman as not not smart but to compliment his “concept” was more than a little bit surprising. But why the about face? It’s possible it had something to do what happens at 2:58 here: Read more »

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the biggest U.S. bank by assets, had a “tin ear” when dealing with regulators before settling probes into mortgage lapses and trading losses, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said. “Our response generally was, ‘We know what we’re doing,’” Dimon wrote today in a letter to the New York-based bank’s investors. “Well, we should have done more self-examination. We need to be better listeners.” [...] The bank missed signals when rivals faced scrutiny and must “do a better job at examining critiques of others so we can learn from other people’s mistakes, too,” he said. [Bloomberg]

I was at my usual banquette table at Cipriani catching up with my dear friend and fellow gala charity chair, an impossibly blond and glamorous socialite. She looked up, over her grilled salmon and leeks. “Do you have anyone for my friend Leanne? Her divorce just became final.” I recalled a lithe brunette who looked good in Lilly, making the rounds of the Hamptons charity cocktail circuit along with her pint-sized now-ex-husband. “Is she realistic yet?” I asked. “I think so.” “Good.” I sipped my Bellini…Where most rich divorcées fail is in assuming they can replace their husbands with a newer model pretty much like the old one. Sorry to say, this tends not to be the case. Most of the time, the divorced well-to-do male is not looking for his equal, but rather for a sexretary from the Midwest, preferably without an opinion. As one recently divorced hedge funder told me: “Being married to a smart, opinionated woman is work! Now I just want tits on a stick, a blonde wig and someone to tell me I’m great when I get home.” Women who take a tough line often wind up lonelier for it…Far more successful are those who focus on just one wish-list item, for instance sex. Assuming the woman is not completely devastated, pulling a Mrs. Robinson is a popular rebound maneuver once the lawyers have retreated and the paralyzing legal battle becomes a bitter memory. Notable hookups for such divorcées include affairs with French or Italian baristas, a Roman Casanova who preys on the newly divorced (despite good tailoring, he’s over-committed and overdrawn) and the occasional Moroccan rug salesman. More common are the standard-issue service-industry providers: the omnipresent trainer, manny, male or female yoga instructor, Hamptons carpenter, contractor, driver, plumber, beach club attendant (for real Mrs. Robinson cred) and tennis pro. Since trainers are allowed an all-access pass to the family compound, they frequently help their clients lift and separate in different areas during the a.m. and p.m. [NYO]

As has been discussed at length in the past, should hedge fund manager Bill Ackman ever decide to take up a new line of work, he would no doubt have a bright future hosting a guerrilla-style makeover show wherein he and a sidekick drive around in a van looking for people who could benefit from his discerning eye and then ambush them on the street and weigh in on what’s wrong with their [choose all that apply: bangs/clothes/arms/ass/life in general].1 Although not classically trained, the Pershing Square founder has years of experience, dating all the way back to his days as a Harvard Business School student, when fellow classmates were asked if streetwalker was the look they were going for.

One money manager said Mr. Ackman was a trustworthy and loyal friend, but also “an acquired taste” because of his tendency to speak very directly where others might tread gingerly—or not at all. When Mr. Ackman was a student at Harvard Business School, the friend recalled, he took it upon himself to tell at least one woman she was overly made up. The delivery: “You know, I’m just saying this because I have your best interests at heart, but you have too much makeup on.”

Those who can get past the bluntness to see that Ackman’s constructive criticism comes from a place of love ultimately benefit from his counsel. According to one testimonial: Read more »

Speaking to Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, George Soros cast doubt on hedge funds’ future ability to do better than the broader markets. “Since hedge funds are now a dominant force in the market, they can’t, as a group, outperform the market,” Soros said. The 82-year old added that managers’ and investors’ risk aversion will only make things worse. “Outperforming the market with low volatility on a consistent basis is an impossibility,” Soros said. “I outperformed the market for 30-odd years, but not with low volatility.” [FINalternatives, Bloomberg]

  • 23 Jan 2013 at 1:26 PM

John Paulson: Go Out And Get Your Dream House Today

Speaking to an audience at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y Tuesday night, Paulson said the housing market had shown a “strong recovery” with prices up and the number of homes for sale at a decade low. Those factors will likely put pressure on builders to create new product, he noted, creating some of the “most positive change in housing since the Lehman crisis.” Paulson said that for an individual investor, his best piece of advice was to buy a home. “This is probably the best time in our lifetime to consider buying a house,” he said. [CNBC]


[Bloomberg]