Bonus Watch '13: Paulson And Co.

The bad news: even if Paulson and Co. turns things around in 2012, they might not get to collect performance fees, on account of being under water due to last year's annus fucking horribilis. The good news: John Paulson's employee will still get paid, because that's just the kind of guy he is. Paulson’s flagship fund, Advantage Plus, fell a whopping 53 percent last year – prompting an apology to investors and a media drubbing. The decline also meant that it could be years before Advantage Plus and other fallen Paulson funds are able to return to their high-water mark, or the returns level at which John Paulson and his colleagues can begin to collect a significant percentage of their annual gains as performance fees. In an acknowledgement of that problem, Paulson recently told some employees he would reset the firm’s internal high-water mark to zero as of Jan. 1, said the person familiar with the matter, effectively meaning that if the company’s funds are in the black for 2012, those employees can collect bonuses pegged to this year’s returns and not be dragged down by last year’s losses. Paulson will pay for those bonuses himself, this person added. John Paulson Lowers the Bar to Pay Employees [CNBC] Related: John Paulson: I’ll Get The Losses This Year, Next Year We Go Dutch?
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The bad news: even if Paulson and Co. turns things around in 2012, they might not get to collect performance fees, on account of potentially still being under water due* to last year's annus fucking horribilis. The good news: John Paulson's employees will still get paid, because that's just the kind of guy he is.

Paulson’s flagship fund, Advantage Plus, fell a whopping 53 percent last year – prompting an apology to investors and a media drubbing. The decline also meant that it could be years before Advantage Plus and other fallen Paulson funds are able to return to their high-water mark, or the returns level at which John Paulson and his colleagues can begin to collect a significant percentage of their annual gains as performance fees.

In an acknowledgement of that problem, Paulson recently told some employees he would reset the firm’s internal high-water mark to zero as of Jan. 1, said the person familiar with the matter, effectively meaning that if the company’s funds are in the black for 2012, those employees can collect bonuses pegged to this year’s returns and not be dragged down by last year’s losses. Paulson will pay for those bonuses himself, this person added.

John Paulson Lowers the Bar to Pay Employees [CNBC]
Related: John Paulson: I’ll Get The Losses This Year, Next Year We Go Dutch?
*Unless they return something like 120% this year. Which could happen.

Related

Paulson And Co To Provide Monthly 'My Bad'

Which is pretty nice of him. John Paulson, the billionaire hedge- fund manager seeking to reverse record losses in 2011, lost 6.7 percent last month in one of his largest funds as gold-mining stocks dropped, said two people briefed on the returns. The decline leaves Advantage Plus, which seeks to profit from corporate events such as takeovers and bankruptcies and uses leverage to amplify returns, down 8.8 percent this year, said the people...Paulson & Co. will now send a “brief commentary” along with its monthly performance estimates to investors, Paulson said in the letter. He is seeking to reverse 2011 losses from an ill-timed bet on an economic recovery, which caused him to scale back risk before stock markets started to rally late in the year. About 20 percent of Paulson’s investor base is currently underwater on the fund holdings, one of the people said. Paulson Hedge Fund Said to Extend Slump With April Loss [Bloomberg]

Paulson and Co Investor Finds New And Interesting Way To Kick John Paulson When He's Down

As Paulson and Co employees, clients, and people named John Paulson do not need to be told, the past year and half has not been the most joyous of times for the hedge fund giant. After making billions shorting subprime mortgages, the firm ended 2011 down 55 percent, was down 16 percent through the first half of 2012, and as of July, saw assets under management decline 44.9 percent to $21 billion from $38.1 billion, due to a combination of unfortunate performance and redemptions by investors so angry at the fund that they've felt the need to repeatedly tell anyone who will listen that parting ways with P&C was among the best if not the best decision they've ever made. One investor that hasn't had to consider voicing its unhappiness to the press or even worry about losing money at all? The 92nd Street Y. Last November Paulson guaranteed that he would personally cover their losses, whatever they turned out to be, come year-end. And the generosity did not stop there: for this one investor only, Paulson offered his services pro-bono, waiving all fees. So while he probably didn't expect representatives of the Y to rent a skywriting plane to proclaim their love and appreciation for him over midtown, lobby the city of New York to get 92nd renamed Paulson Street, or have his face tattooed to their chests, he probably also figured they wouldn't turn around and hit him the mother of all slaps in the face. In this case the declaration that despite the highly favorable terms of their arrangement, any involvement with P&C still felt a tad too risky for everyone's comfort level. In the midst of the financial crisis, the 92nd Street Y came up with a sweetheart deal for its endowment: investments in funds run by the likes of John Paulson, Marc Lasry, and other hedge-fund luminaries that were fee-free and guaranteed against losses. The strategy performed well for several years, said people familiar with how it worked, as the Y benefited from risk-free investing in some of the fund industry’s most successful strategies. But, concerned about the impact of a catastrophe in which a money manager couldn’t repay losses and eager to construct a more diversified portfolio, the Y recently opted to redeem its hedge-fund investments, these people said, and rebuild its financial strategy from scratch. Paulson himself is worth $15 billion, so a catastrophe in which he couldn't repay the Y's losses would have to be a big one. And don't give him some line about how you're pulling out of all hedge fund investments and it's not personal. You could have let him have this. Despite Sweet Deal, 92nd Street Y Redeems Paulson Money [CNBC] Earlier: John Paulson: I’ll Get The Losses This Year, Next Year We Go Dutch?

So Long As John Paulson Doesn't Work Up The Nerve To Send That Redemption Letter To A Certain Hedge Fund Located At 1251 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY, 10020, Paulson & Co. Will Be Around For Years To Come

Was 2011 a very kind year to John Paulson? No, it was not. Is 2012 shaping up to be any different? Not really, no. His proclamation that last year's losses were but an “aberration” has not exactly been backed by the fact that AP was down 16 percent through June, Morgan Stanley’s prime brokerage put Paulson and Co. on a list of firms it warns clients not to invest with, and a few clients have not only quit the fund but told anybody who will listen that leaving was one of the best decisions they've ever made. Also not great is the fact that assets under management have declined 44.9 percent to $17 billion from $38.1 billion, due to a combination of unfortunate performance and redemptions. Happily, though, there is a silver lining that perhaps few people have thought of, namely that John Paulson's got mucho of his own dinero in the firm and he hasn't given up on the place yet. ...the firm has a saving grace: About 60%, or $12.6 billion of June 30 assets are from employees. Observers said it is impossible to know how much of that employee asset pool belongs to John Paulson, the firm's founder and president, but they speculate it is the vast majority. (By contrast, about 31% or 32% of Paulson & Co.'s assets are from institutional investors.) One source said the hedge fund manager's size at its peak — before the performance decline — combined with the high percentage of employee capital have insulated Paulson from the crippling impacts that performance declines of this size and client redemptions would wreak on other firms. “It's impossible for any other hedge fund firm to lose $17 billion and still be in business,” said the source, who asked for anonymity. “The firm will not fall apart because of this. Just John (Paulson's) money alone is enough to keep the firm in business. But he is not going anywhere. There are absolutely no signs that John Paulson intends to do anything other than manage his way out of this.” This scenario would also have to assume that the firm stops losing money but regardless, suck on the above, New Mexico. Paulson Tries To Bounce Back [P&I via Dealbook]

Bonus Watch '13: LightSquared

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 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 to do? 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. Troubled wireless-satellite company LightSquared wants permission to dole out up to nearly $6 million in cash bonuses to four of its top employees, including its interim chief executive. Recent months have seen LightSquared burn through money--it has spent $134.3 million since filing for bankruptcy in May, according to its most recent monthly operating report, and executives alike. In court papers filed Wednesday, LightSquared said four senior executives have left the company in the past six months, including its former chairman of the board and CEO. The company wants to make sure four "irreplaceable employees" stick with the company as it attempts to claw its way out of bankruptcy protection and help to make the reorganization as fast and cheap as possible. LightSquared's bonus proposal paves the way for a "total possible cash payout of approximately $5.985 million" over two years, according to a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Four employees--interim CEO, president and chairman of the board Douglas Smith; Chief Financial Officer Marc R. Montagner; general counsel Curtis Lu; and its executive vice president, regulatory affairs & public policy Jeffrey Carlisle--would be eligible for incentives consisting of cash and restricted stock units paid in shares of the company's current common stock. If the executives satisfy cash preservation goals, make progress in LightSquared's efforts to resolve certain regulatory issues and emerge from bankruptcy by the end of 2013, they'll receive vesting of all issued stock and "aggregate incentive payments of cash up to 285% of each such key employee's annual salary," LightSquared said. Hitting less aggressive goals, like exiting bankruptcy by the end of June 2014, would come with smaller payouts, like a cash bonus equal to 100% of the executives' annual salary, in the case of the mid-2014 bankruptcy exit. Mr. Smith currently makes $700,000 annually; Mr. Montagner and Mr. Lu $500,000 each; and Mr. Carlisle $400,000. LightSquared said each of the employees "provides critical services, drives performance, and impacts LightSquared's ability to enhance value in the Chapter 11 cases." The group has also had to take on extra work recently, as more and more employees have left LightSquared both voluntarily and involuntarily. The company said its total employee headcount has dropped by 60% in the last six months. The bonus plan aims to motivate the company's leaders to manage its businesses and working capital effectively and maximize the value of the estate for the benefit of all stakeholders, LightSquared said. LightSquared Seeks to Pay Key Executives up to $6M in Bonuses [DowJones]

Former Paulson LP Pleased To See Her Ex Hasn’t Changed His Deadbeat Ways, Not That She Actively Looks In On Him And Would Take Him Back In A Heartbeat Or Anything

As you may or may not have heard, the last 18 months have not been the best of times for John Alfred Paulson. His Advantage Plus fund was down fifty percent last year, he got screwed big time by a bunch of fake trees, his proclamation that 2011's losses were but an "aberration" has not exactly been helped by the fact that AP was down 10 percent through May 2012, Morgan Stanley's prime brokerage put Paulson and Co. on a list of firms it warns clients not to invest with, some investors " have expressed their growing unease," and others have called it quits. But! JP can take solace in knowing that at least one LP, and probably more, are so not over him. New Mexico, which stuck by Paulson through last year's growing losses, pulled its $40 million investment in the first quarter. "From time to time, I do check on John Paulson to see whether we did the right thing," said Joelle Mevi, the state's chief investment officer. "And I see that we did." No word on whether or not New Mexico downs two bottles of wine and then logs onto Facebook to stalk Paulson's page and mutters "skank" under her breath when she sees JP with more attractive LPs but it seems prett-ay obvious. John Paulson's Returns Falter Again; Investors Fret [Reuters]