“Frankly, my dear, you should give a damn,” Louis Bacon said last night, paraphrasing from what he called his holy book, “Gone With the Wind.” The Raleigh, North Carolina-born hedge-fund manager, who looks a bit like Rhett Butler (especially the hair), exhorted guests to protect nature as he accepted the National Audubon Society’s Audubon Medal…Five women costumed as North American birds circulated during cocktail hour. They wore bras and undies, a feather here and there, and body paint (they’d spent six hours standing during their transformation). Each ably identified herself (which most guests — including Jonathan Rosen, author of a book about birding — failed at). There was a red-breasted robin, a Blackburnian warbler, a loon, a blue jay and a calliope hummingbird. “Mrs. Bacon and I thought of it,” said Ann Colley, the executive director of the Moore Charitable Foundation, which has carried out much of Bacon’s conservation work. “We didn’t want it to be boring.” [Bloomberg]
Louis Bacon’s Animal Conservation Work Involves Stripping Models Down To Their ‘Bras And Undies,’ Painting Them To Look Like BirdsBy Bess Levin
Time was, making hundreds of millions of dollars one minute and losing hundreds of millions the next got Greg Coffey’s blood pumping. Now? Eh. Who cares? What’s the point? Read more »
Shortly after buying Trinchera Blanca ranch Bacon realized he had a serious problem and that in order to fix it he would have to do the previously unfathomable: become a public figure. His paradise was under siege, threatened by an invasive, man-made species–a proposed energy transmission line, which was to be held aloft by a series of 150-foot-tall metal towers. Seventeen miles of that line was to cut through the heart of the Blanca portion of the ranch and right in front of the trio of 14,000-foot peaks, the signature “viewshed” of the San Luis Valley. The project, a joint venture between Xcel Energy and Tri-State Generation & Transmission, was being sold to the public as a needed “green” line that would carry solar energy and was backed by a prominent environmental group in Boulder. It looked like a huge loss for Bacon…[A team he assembled] discovered that the energy companies had cheaper alternatives for existing lines, that Xcel had already met its renewable energy mandate with the state and that the line, which hadn’t even gone through an environmental impact study, would in fact most likely not even carry any “green” energy at all. “The more we looked into it, the more we felt like Erin Brockovich,” says Bacon, referring to the environmental sleuth immortalized by Julia Roberts in a 2000 movie…Feeling the heat, the energy companies fought back, painting Bacon as a Nimby (not in my backyard), a rich Easterner who wanted to dictate the energy needs of Colorado. (“Poor little rich boy,” the Pueblo Chieftain called him in an editorial.)…“What’s wrong with Nimbyism?” Bacon asks. “The entire environmental movement was built on it. Some of the greatest environmentalists were Nimbys. Thoreau protected Walden, right?” [Forbes, earlier]
His throat and arms, also hit, are okay, too. Read more »
Why Should A Swiss Central Banker’s Wife Get Punished For Being Able To Navigate The FX Market, Unlike *Someone* She Knows?By Bess Levin
As you may have heard, Phillip Hildebrand, the President of the Swiss National Bank, is potentially in a bit of hot water today, on account of some trades made by his wife, Kashya. Apparently the Mrs. made three transactions last year that are being examined, particularly one that “appeared to benefit in part from the central bank’s aggressive move last September to control the rise of the Swiss franc.”
Late Tuesday, Ms. Hildebrand told Swiss television that in August she “was interested in buying dollars because the currency was at a record low, and in fact almost ridiculously cheap.” Ms. Hildebrand added that, having worked in the financial sector between 1984 and 1999, she was “always watching the markets” and “felt confident making this transaction.” She said she made a dollar purchase Aug. 15, when the U.S. currency was close to a record low against the Swiss franc. Two days later, on Aug. 17, the SNB decided to swamp the Swiss franc money market with liquidity, which prompted the franc to weaken. Then on Sept. 6, the SNB introduced a minimum exchange rate of 1.20 francs against the euro, an aggressive move that caused the dollar to gain 13% against the Swiss currency within a week.
According to an inquiry by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the SNB’s auditors, Ms. Hildebrand, who has run a Zurich art gallery since 2001, sold francs and bought about $504,000. Ms. Hildebrand told Swiss television Tuesday that about 70% to 80% of all transactions at her art gallery are conducted in dollars and she therefore wanted to seize on the buying opportunity. The SNB’s general counsel was informed about the transaction around 12 hours later and gave his approval, she added. According to emails gathered during the PWC probe, Mr. Hildebrand learned of the transaction a day after it was conducted.
According to the Journal, Mr. Hildebrand “immediately” got on the horn with his client adviser at Bank Sarasin & Co, where the trades were made, and ordered that in the future, “currency transactions must be made only if he himself ordered them, or if he confirmed such an order.” Which, sure, probably seems like a good idea, in light of Hildebrand’s gig and the desire to not look like he was front-running Switzlerland. Having said that, apparently it was in the couple’s best interest to have Kashya overseeing their household finances. While the two were both hedge fund employees back in the day at Moore Capital (where they met in the ’90s), apparently one of them’s still got it, and one of them don’t. Read more »
Give it up for Vikram! Read more »
May was the worst month for hedge funds since October 2008. The HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index lost 2.6 percent and Louis Moore Bacon got hammered. Not Boaz Weinstein. Yeah, he might have lost $1 billion at Deutsche Bank, but that’s old news. Boaz’s Saba Capital (Hebrew for grandfather) bucked the trend in May, up 1.6 percent for the month and 5.8 percent for the year.
Here’s some other winners and losers from May: Read more »
According to Bloomberg, yes. As in the case of Moore Capital’s alleged little insider trader, Julian Rifat, who found the “look but don’t touch” rule too difficult to abide.
Rifat was an execution trader in the London office of Moore, a New York-based firm that oversees $15 billion. His job was to get the best prices for portfolio managers without telegraphing the firm’s buying and selling to rivals. He was taken into custody on his 41st birthday.
“By definition an execution trader sits near the money; he can smell the money, but he can’t touch the money,” said Jason Kennedy, chief executive officer of London-based executive- search firm Kennedy Associates.
For any managers hoping to avoid embarrassing headlines and nationally televised perp walks, a suggestion. At the end of each day, allow these guys to strip naked and roll around in the room where you keep the cash. Let them dive, Scrooge-McDuck style into the ball pit of gold coins. Let them rub it where the sun don’t shine. Let them tap that ass. Only when you remove the forbidden fruit aspect of it all will you be able to trust these guys.
In marginally related news, here’s some random info about Rifat. Haven’t yet figured out how it can explain his motivation but surely one of you can figure it out. Read more »
The London-based hedge fund, Moore Capital, was one of the firms raided by the City watchdog the FSA, the BBC has learned. One person at Moore Capital and five other City workers are being held. Those arrested are suspected of taking part in a long-running insider-dealing scheme. The arrests came after 16 addresses were searched in a joint probe by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). Documents and computers were seized from premises in London, the South East and Oxfordshire. It is the FSA’s biggest operation against insider dealing.