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.