Hedge Fund News: Edward Lampert, Paul Singer, Netflix Inc. (NFLX)

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Sears Says Lampert to Take Over as CEO (Bloomberg)
Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ:SHLD) said Lou D’Ambrosio is stepping down as chief executive officer and Chairman Edward Lampert will take over the job as the billionaire hedge fund manager works to revive the retailer. The sudden departure of D’Ambrosio, 48, was prompted by family health matters, the Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based company said yesterday in a statement. Lampert, 50, will take over at the end of the company’s fiscal year on Feb. 2. Lampert becomes Sears’s fifth CEO since he merged the retailer and Kmart in March 2005 as the more than century-old department-store chain works to emerge from hard times. Sales have slid for five straight years and the company posted a $3.14 billion loss in its last fiscal year amid competition from Wal- Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) and Home Depot Inc. (HD)

ESL INVESTMENTS2 gov’ts vs. Singer (NYPost)
Argentina is paying $800,000 to rent a jet for President Cristina Kirchner so she can avoid the threat of having her official plane seized by defaulted bondholders during a tour of Asia. The move follows a legal battle with Ghana after the African nation detained an Argentine naval ship for 10 weeks as part of a dispute with investors holding bonds from the country’s 2001 default, led by hedge fund manager Paul Singer. Meanwhile, Singer’s Elliott Management hedge fund said a French regulator is investigating possible insider trading by its UK unit in Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhone SA in 2010. Elliott received a “letter of grievance” from Autorité des Marches Financiers that said the hedge fund may have purchased APRR shares based on material, nonpublic information.

London Quantitative Hedge Funds Report Second Year of Losses (SFGate)
Hedge funds that use computers to follow trends lost money for a second straight year in 2012 as political debates over the U.S. fiscal cliff and Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis roiled markets. The Newedge CTA Trend Sub-Index, which tracks the performance of the largest computer-driven, or quant funds, fell 3.4 percent last year after a 7.9 percent decline in 2011. David Harding’s $10 billion Winton Futures Fund Ltd. slid 3.5 percent in 2012, its second annual decline since opening in 1997, investors in the pool said. Man Group Plc’s $17 billion AHL Diversified fund fell 2.1 percent, while BlueCrest Capital Management’s $14 billion trend-following fund gained 0.02 percent, said the investors, who asked not to be identified because the figures are private.

Hedge fund industry veteran Groome joins Highwater (HedgeWeek)
Todd Groome, former chairman of the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), has joined the Highwater Group. Groome (pictured) has 28 years of experience in international financial markets, working in both public and private sectors and across geographies. Prior to his four years (2009 – 2012) as AIMA chairman, where he represented the hedge fund industry globally, Groome was an adviser on financial markets to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for over five years, was an investment banker for more than 13 years, and practiced law in Washington DC for five years.

Fiscal cliff aversion creates final 2012 performance boost for hedge funds (Opalesque)
Commenting on the December 2012 performance of hedge funds, Hedge Fund Research found that the last minute recovery in US equity markets, literally on the final trading day of 2012, in anticipation of legislation to avert the US fiscal cliff, created gains which offset losses from earlier in December and pushed most US equity indices into positive territory for the month. December gains were strong in the Financials and Technology sectors, with small cap equities also posting strong returns. Regionally, equities across Asia, Europe & Emerging Markets posted gains led by China, Japan, Russia and Argentina. In the US, yields rose across most maturities in anticipation of the fiscal cliff resolution, while high yield credit continued to tighten.

US hedge fund places US$500m bet on Singapore F&N takeover war (IFRE)
Davidson Kempner Capital Management LLC has bought a good chunk of F&N shares since a consortium led by Indonesian tycoon Stephen Riady’s Overseas Union Enterprise launched a S$13.1bn (US$10.7bn) counter-bid for the Singapore firm in November. That offer surpassed an earlier one made by Thai beer baron Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi. Davidson Kempner’s role in the F&N saga is unusual for its size and because one of the bidders, in addition to attempting to buy out the company, is trying to increase its shareholding. At least one instance has emerged in which the Thai group has offered to buy F&N shares from existing shareholders and has been rebuffed – fuelling investor expectations of higher bids and buoying F&N’s stock.

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