Yesterday afternoon, the SEC and the Department of Justice charged hedge fund manager, YouTube star, and prolific Tweeter Anthony Davian with fraud. Like any good alleged Ponzi schemer, Davian applied the “one pot of money” philosophy to his funds’ assets, and used investor cash to buy himself an Audi Q7 Prestige, build a palace the likes of which Akron, Ohio had never seen, and collect rare pens. As is typical in these kinds of cases, the benefit of hindsight allows those who witnessed the crime unfold in real time (clients, employees, etc) say “Well, of course it was a scam,” even if it wasn’t readily apparent at the time. Although not for a lack of trying on Davian’s part! Behold, the amazing list of red flags he dangled in people’s faces (uncovered by reporter Roddy Boyd), all but begging them to pause and say “Hey wait second, would a hedge fund manager running a legitimate and successful shop…” Read more »
In Retrospect Maybe It Was Slightly Suspect That Supposedly Legit Hedge Fund Manager Had A Habit Of Tweeting “Ching!” When A Trade Made Money, Employed A Single Analyst Whose Finance Background Was Limited To Work As A Bank TellerBy Bess Levin
Bloomberg has a fantastic article today about how Lehman’s decaying corpse is suing a bunch of former clients, many of them wee and sympathetic nonprofits, who hosed Lehman when they terminated swaps in September 2008. Some of these lawsuits turn on disputes over when those clients, or their consultants, should have valued the swaps for termination purposes, and I was looking forward to reading Bloomberg’s account of which of those customers used the SWPM <go> function on their terminals and on what dates, but for some reason that wasn’t mentioned.
The basic story is that clients had trades with Lehman that were in-the-money to Lehman, and when Lehman went bankrupt the clients terminated the trades and wired Lehman termination payments that Lehman now rather belatedly finds inadequate. You could understand why the clients would want to get out of these trades: for one thing, the trades had moved against the clients (thus being in-the-money to Lehman) and seemed likely to move further against them1; for another, if the trades did move back in the clients’ favor, what were the odds that a freshly bankrupted Lehman would pay the clients what they were owed?
Is Lehman right that the clients underpaid? Oh, I mean, of course. I don’t have the details of the trades but you can reason this out from first principles. Here:
- It’s September 15, 2008, and Lehman has just filed for bankruptcy.
- You owe Lehman some money.
- How much you owe them is a somewhat subjective matter that depends on what termination date you pick, what model you use, whom you ask for a quote, etc.
- You know, with some certainty, that everyone at Lehman who knows anything about your trade, and also everyone who doesn’t, has bigger things to worry about, like stealing office supplies on their way out the door.
- You can basically write them a check and enclose a note saying “here’s what we think we owe you,” and see if they write back.
- How big is the check?
Harbinger Capital-backed LightSquared is a wireless venture that seeks to create “convenient connectivity for all.” Unfortunately, as the Wilbur Falcone fans among us know, it’s looking like it’ll be a dark day in hell before that happens, on account of bunch of forces working together to shut this thing down at every turn, including but not limited to the yachting community that claims GSP interference caused by LS will result in boats getting lost at sea; the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, which has said LightSquared “may degrade precision services that track hurricanes, guide farmers and help build flood defenses”; and the FAA, which recently put out a study estimating LS could “cost 794 lives in aviation accidents over 10 years with disruptions to satellite-aided navigation.” Also not helping is the fact that LightSquared filed for bankruptcy in May, the company is blowing through cash faster than Wilbur’s Studio 54 days, and senior executives won’t stop quitting. While some people might take stock of the situation and decide, at this point, to throw in the towel, Wilbur Falcone’s benefactor is not some people. He’s making this thing work if it’s the last thing he does. So, what now? Obviously a couple of miracle workers are going to be needed and the thing about miracle workers is that they don’t come cheap. Gotta spend money to make money. Read more »
LightSquared Creditors Will Get The Documents They Want, After They’ve Pried Them Out Of Phil Falcone’s Cold Dead HandsBy Bess Levin
LightSquared’s lenders says Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners won’t hand over documents they are requesting as part of an investigation over whether they can pursue claims against Harbinger and the wireless satellite company. In a Tuesday filing with U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, lawyers for a group of LightSquared lenders owed more than $1 billion said it “appears” LightSquared received “preferential” loans last summer without any investment by Harbinger, which owns most of LightSquared’s stock and has four of the company’s six board seats. The lender group says it has the right to subpoena Harbinger as part of its June agreement to allow LightSquared to use cash secured by its loans. But Harbinger, it says, has refused. “Harbinger’s basis for its blanket refusal is that ‘as these cases progress, it will become clear that sufficient value exists to pay all creditors in full under a Chapter 11 plan,’” said the lenders, whose loans are secured by all of LightSquared’s assets. [DowJones]
How will you be spending your weekend? I know what I’ll be doing, which is reading all the Lehman bankruptcy documents. They’ve been online for a week or two and we’ve had some teasers today, covering how much all the big fish got paid and how much all the medium-sized fish in IBD got paid. Naturally those were the first things anyone noticed because, y’know, money. And money is important. But this industry isn’t just about money. It’s also about hope:
If you’re into Greece you’ve probably already read all about it and if you’re not I can’t make you. But in brief: Greece is fixed and we will NEVER HEAR ABOUT ANY PROBLEMS EVER AGAIN. In less brief:
(1) Some folks stayed up all night and produced a statement.
(2) Greece’s private creditors will be offered the long-anticipated opportunity to voluntarily exchange their old bonds for new bonds, which will for the most part be the same as the old bonds except for minor differences including but not limited to a greatly extended maturity (to 2042), a 53.5% reduced face amount, and a 3.6% blended interest rate.
(3) If they don’t voluntarily exchange, which they will because – hilariously – they’ve already taken accounting writedowns (and also because I guess it’s better than a disorderly default), private holders will get CAC’ed, which may or may not be as bad as it sounds, but in any case at least CDS will pay out, unless it doesn’t.
(4) Also the public sector will do various helpful, confusing things.
(5) In exchange for this, Greece will enact horrible austerity, and because no one believes that Greece will actually do that, there will be escrow accounts and what Reuters ominously calls “permanent surveillance by an increased European presence on the ground.”
(6) Everyone is pretty sure we’ll be doing this again in six months and, look, just fair warning, I will not be writing about it then, because feh.
We haven’t had a serious international bankruptcy, which this pretty much is, since I started paying attention to the financial markets, two months ago, so I mostly think about insolvency from a US bankruptcy law perspective. One thing that happens in bankruptcy is that, like, really really roughly speaking, the creditors stop being creditors and become the owners. This isn’t always the case but the basic playbook of US bankruptcy law is: Read more »