hedge fund managers

Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. had bok choy and purple cauliflower with his wild striped bass last night, and blueberries on toothpicks for dessert. At Lincoln Center’s Fall Gala, a healthful menu seemed designed to ensure long-lived donors. Julian Robertson’s search for wine proved challenging, as greetings kept him from the one area where waiters were serving drinks. He finally got a glass of Santa Rita Sauvignon Blanc with his first course, a wedge of iceberg lettuce. [BusinessWeek via JP]

  • 22 Oct 2013 at 12:37 PM

Caption Contest Tuesday


Bill Ackman taking a Citibike for a spin last week at a Park Avenue Armory gala. [NYSD]

Embattled hedge-fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen, whose SAC Capital Advisors is charged with insider trading, paid spiky-haired chef Guy Fieri $100,000 “to be his friend for a day,” a new book reveals. Cohen paid Fieri to drive around Connecticut with him to reenact a fantasy episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” reveals Allen Salkin in his book, “From Scratch: Inside the Food Network.” But after “Cohen paid Guy Fieri $100,000 to be his friend for a day,” Salkin writes the odd couple became so close that the chef’s top-rated show even featured Cohen’s favorite hot-dog spot, the (perhaps appropriately titled) Super Duper Weenie. NYP, October 21, 2013

I.

October 3, 2011

The place: Steve Cohen’s Greenwich, Connecticut mansion. The time: Saturday afternoon. The mood: Freaked out.

“Breathe, Steve, breathe.”

“Everything is going to be fine.”

“Who wouldn’t love you?”

“Boss, I’ve spoken with his assistant, and have been assured that he is extremely excited.”

Steve said nothing but continued rocking back and forth in the fetal position on foyer floor, where he’d been since late morning. The words of his wife, general counsel, and president had done nothing to comfort him, nor did the awkward pats on the shoulder offered by his chief financial officer.

“Honey, at least eat something, please,” Alex implored. That he was nervous about what someone thought of him was concerning enough but the fact that her husband had barely touched his breakfast was officially scaring Mrs. C.

“How about a some toast?” SAC Chief Financial Officer Dan Berkowitz asked. “Just a little bite?” he suggested gently, moving the bread toward Cohen’s lips like an airplane. Normally Berkowitz would never have dared to get that close, but these were unusual circumstances.

Cohen pushed the toast away.

“Come on,” Berkowitz tried again. “Just a little taste, just for us.”

Cohen pushed the toast away harder.

“Steve, really, it’s going to be okay,” Alex told him.

“Easy for you to say!” Cohen shouted, suddenly snapping up off the floor.

“Honestly, boss what are you worried about?” SAC President Tom Conheeney asked. “You’ve wanted this for so long.”

“Yeah, I know, and now I’m sick to my stomach about it!” Cohen shared in an uncharacteristic flash of vulnerability. It was a side of Cohen no one had ever seen before– needy, panicky, plagued with self-doubt– and it was extremely unnerving.

“What if this whole thing was a mistake? What if he doesn’t like me? What if it takes away some of the mystique of the show? What if I get in that car and I can’t think of one thing to say? What if–”

Steve had many more what-if scenarios to share but before he could finish, he was interrupted by the blare of a novelty car-horn. Everyone in the room froze. A look of terror flashed across Steve’s face. The silence was broken only by Cohen’s housekeeper, whose name he could never remember, who he’d tasked earlier that morning with taking the first shift at the window.

“Mr. Cohen!” she shouted. “He’s here.”

II.

November 2007, SAC trading floor. Read more »

After months of fighting the government’s insider trading case tooth and nail, the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors is leaning toward admitting criminal wrongdoing and agreeing to pay a record financial penalty to resolve the charges, according to two people briefed on the deliberations…In agreeing to have SAC plead guilty and pay the hefty fine, SAC’s owner, Steven A. Cohen, would be seeking to put his legal woes behind him in the hopes of salvaging his business. Once he resolved the government’s case, Mr. Cohen would look to transform SAC into a “family office” that would manage Mr. Cohen’s own wealth. [Dealbook, earlier]

Hedge fund manager John Paulson, known for huge gains followed by heavy losses in some of his funds, extended his portfolios’ winning streak in September, leaving all of them with double-digit gains for the year, a person familiar with the numbers said on Monday…Paulson told investors that his Recovery Fund gained 4.2 percent in September and is up 37.8 percent for the year, while the Paulson Enhanced fund gained 3.1 percent and is up 25.6 percent for the year, the source said. Even his Advantage Funds, the firm’s biggest before suffering heavy losses in 2011 and 2012, were up: The Advantage Fund gained 0.9 percent to be up 11 percent for the year, while the Advantage Plus Fund gained 1.2 percent and is up 15.8 percent. [Reuters]

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Your short position on Herbalife — you’re betting against the company — has caused some friends like George Soros and Daniel Loeb to turn on you. Bill Ackman: Neither of the people you mentioned is, or has ever been, a close friend of mine. I certainly know the people you mentioned — but, look, you need a thick skin to be in this business. In a short sale, the whole world is going to be on the other side of the investment until they realize you’re right. [NYT, earlier]

I’ve seen my share of odd moments during annual meetings, but until Thursday I’d never seen a grown man cry during one. O.K., maybe “cry” is a bit of an overstatement for what happened. Still, it was pretty startling when, in the middle of his speech to Target Corporation shareholders, William A. Ackman, the hedge fund manager who had waged an expensive, high-profile proxy fight against the company, suddenly choked up and stopped speaking. He wiped away a tear.Joe Nocera/NYT, May 29, 2009

The group met in a small conference room. Instead of the usual three SEC attorneys, only two were at that meeting. Gerald Russello, the attorney who had been leading the investigation, had taken a job in the general counsel’s office at Bear Stearns. The presentation was going according to plan when [Pershing Square's general counsel] noticed that Ackman was getting agitated. “I’ve shown you this fraud. I’ve shown you that fraud,” Ackman said. “What do I have to do? What do I have to prove to you before you take some action?” His face was flushed, his eyes misty.Christine Richard, Confidence Game, 2010

Without reading any further, [Pershing Square's general counsel] told his wife, “I may have to quit my job tomorrow.” His boss’s habit of writing long, emotional, late-night missives without having him vet them was one of the aggravations of his job. But this was the worst yet.Christine Richard, Confidence Game, 2010

Staring down the activist, the directors proposed installing Ingram as chairman, and chief financial officer Kathryn McQuade as interim CEO. Ackman’s furious outburst could be heard in an outside hallway, where a clutch of advisers was standing by…Half a year later, Ackman is asked to explain his Calgary outburst. “Ballistic is too strong a word,” he says. He searches long and hard for diplomatic words to explain his passionate reaction in the CP boardroom. “There were a lot of bruised feelings,” he says. “It took a while before we were able to work it out. The first few hours were not easy.” When it is suggested that his anger may be a deliberate act to unnerve his adversaries, he is incensed. “I don’t act, ever,” he says. “I’m exactly who I appear to be. I am unfiltered, for better or worse.”Globe and Mail, November 29, 2012

As has been discussed at length in the past, and as you can see from the above, Pershing Square founder Bill Ackman is an investor who wears his heart on his sleeve. A hedge fund manager who imbues emotion in everything he does. Sometimes those emotions come in the form of anger. Sometimes they come out in the form letters penned at 2AM to various SEC officials because what he had to say could not wait another few hours. More often than not, they come out as salty tears that were impossible to hold back.

Ackman’s emotional range has been well-documented and when a reporter recently questioned whether or not said emotions were real or simply a tactic to weird out his opponents, he informed her that what you see is what you get. Bill Ackman fakes nothing and furthermore, doesn’t deem it necessary to hold back when gripped by feelings, whatever they may be: unlike some money managers, whose facial expressions betray fewer hints of what they’re thinking or feeling than a corpse, Bill Ackman is man enough to let it all hang out, a quality that, for the record, we think he should highlight rather than distance himself from.

So it was a bit odd to see him tell Andrew Ross Sorkin this: Read more »