CEO’s Knowledge Of Paul Singer’s Predilections Not Enough To Save His Job

What was the activist hedge fund manager doing with a feathered headdress in Berlin 10 years ago?
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By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

During his long career, Elliott Management founder Paul Singer has made his dislikes abundantly clear. They include entrenched boards that won’t do what he wants, the Federal Reserve, the bond market, French laws, uniquely recalcitrant debtors, law firms abetting uniquely recalcitrant debtors, modern radio, hedge fund naysayers, people who share his thoughts with those outside the magic circle, everyone who ran for president last year (even if he’s made peace with the one who won) and Barack Obama.

His known affinities constitute a somewhat shorter list: gold, exploding cell phones, weapons of financial mass destruction, gay marriage and winning. Oh, and, apparently, soccer.

You may have thought, when Singer wore an Argentina jersey to the 2014 World Cup, that he was just having a little fun with the country he’d just forced into a second ruinous default, as he almost certainly was. But there was more to it: The hedge-fund billionaire just loves the beautiful game, and can’t help letting himself go a little at footie’s quadrennial celebration. At least, that is, if you believe Klaus Kleinfeld, who was very definitely on Singer’s dislike list even before he sent the vaguely threatening, definitively ungrammatical letter that got him canned as Arconic CEO.

It was much to my delight when I recently learned from Berlin what a phenomenal soccer enthusiast you must be. Quite a few people who accompanied you in Berlin in 2006 during and especially after the many matches you attended are still full of colorful memories about this obviously remarkable time; it indeed seems to have the strong potential to become lastingly legendary. How you celebrated your soccer enthusiasm and the “great time” you must have had in your Berlin weeks – unforgettable without a doubt – left a deep impression on them.

As a token of my appreciation to learn about this completely “other side” of you, I allow myself to send you a little souvenir, which might bring back some “vivid (hopefully positive) memories”: The official match ball of the FIF World Championships 2006 (called “Teamgeist”, in English “Team spirit”). I would be honored if it found an adequate place on your memorabilia shelfs….

P.S.: If I manage to find a native American Indian’s feather headdress I will send this additional essential part of the memories. And by the way: “Singing in the rain” is indeed a wonderful classic – even though I have never tried to sing it in a fountain.

Having been in Frankfurt during Germany’s 2014 World Cup victory in Brazil—the one to which Singer was wearing his ironic Argentine duds—I can report that singing in fountains is not especially unusual behavior during World Cup month in the Bundesrepublik. As a user of the internet, I can also report that I’m astonished Kleinfeld couldn’t find a feathered headdress to wrap around the soccer ball. In any event, I’d certainly like to hear more about Singer’s fourth-yearly antics. Surely, there must have been a great deal of fun to be had in South Africa in 2010 and South Korea and Japan in 2002, and Paris in 1998 was full of fountains ripe for singing, in the rain or otherwise.

Klaus Kleinfeld letter to Paul Singer [WSJ]
Ousted Arconic CEO Sent Vague Threat, Soccer Ball to Activist Hedge Fund Boss [WSJ]

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