Phil Goldstein Showing His Age

The hedge fund manager might wanna update his pop culture references.
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What are the kids listening to these days?

Long-time readers of this blog will know of our deep affection for Phil Goldstein, the Brooklyn-bred grandfather and activist investor who has a way with words, especially when people tell him he can't do things, like the time he called Massachusetts’ top securities regulator a “pompous ass.” Well, the SEC may be gearing up to try to tell him what he can’t do again, in this case talk in certain ways about certain stocks to certain other activists, but we have to admit that the Bulldog Investors chief’s latest bon mot isn’t his best.

In a sign of the SEC’s new focus on the issue, the agency in March sent a letter to activist fund Bulldog Investors LLC about its campaign for board seats at Stewart Information Services Corp., a provider of title insurance. The SEC asked whether Bulldog had any “agreements or understandings” with Foundation Asset Management LP, another fund that had run its own proxy fight at the company….

“If you go to a Grateful Dead concert, you’re going to find a lot of Grateful Dead fans,” he said. “They’re not a group. They just like the same music.”

Grandpa Phil may want to sit down with his grandkids one of these days to update his references, as no one has gone to a Grateful Dead concert in 20 years, and after the Fourth of July weekend this year, no one will ever again until the surviving members of the Grateful Dead need money again. Maybe go with the Goo Goo Dolls? The people at Belmont Park certainly think they’re relevant enough to keep 90,000 people in their seats after American Pharoah finishes sixth tomorrow.

SEC Probes Activist Funds Over Whether They Secretly Acted in Concert [WSJ]

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To put it lightly, the last couple years have been a rather dark time for Phil Falcone. Though his woes are too numerous to mention in full, they include: the adversity he's faced in getting people to believe in LightSquared; his unbelievably pissy investors, who still aren't over the time he borrowed $113 million from a gated fund to pay personal taxes, or offered to pay out redemptions in illiquid LightSquared equity; the Securities and Exchange Commission, which wants him banned from the industry for life; the woman who once offered a respite from it all, who now won't even come out of her room when she knows he's home; and, of course, the plunging returns in his once highly profitable hedge fund. It would be enough to make a grown man say 'Fuck, it. I'm done.' Put a few things in a sack, tie it to the blade of a hockey stick, and hitchhike back to Minnesota. But Phil didn't do that and now? After a merciless storm of shit that felt like it would never ease up? After long days of investors and regulators breathing down his neck and nights of having to pound on the front door because he was accidentally purposely locked out of the house? The tide feels like it's turning for Philip Falcone. Beleaguered hedge fund honcho Phil Falcone’s big bet on his own publicly traded entity, Harbinger Group, is helping to lift his troubled hedge fund, Harbinger Capital Management, out of the deep end. Falcone’s flagship fund posted returns of 10.6 percent in July and a whopping 28 percent gain in June. Of course, he's still down 5.8 percent year-to-date, and the the director of the SEC's division of enforcement wants hedge fund graduate schools to use Harbinger as a case study during the unit on "how to operate a hedge fund unlawfully," but tonight? Tonight he tells Lisa to treat herself to something nice. Tonight he tells Wilbur to pull the baby grand out of the closet, where it's sat untouched for months. Tonight his key works in the lock. Tonight we dance. Phil Helps Himself [NYP]