Hedge Fund and Insider Trading News: Bill Ackman, Bain Capital, AQR Capital Management, Lansdowne Partners, Lamb Weston Holdings Inc (LW), Winmark Corporation (WINA), and More

Ackman Avoids Limelight Even as Pershing Square Posts Record 2019 (Reuters)
BOSTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Two years ago, investor William Ackman, who pushes corporations to perform better, took his own advice and laid out a plan for a comeback after years of losses. Over dinner at the New York Public Library, Ackman told investors in January 2018 that he was going back to basics by cutting staff, ending investor visits that were eating into his time, and hunkering down in the office to do research.

AQR to Cut Up to 10% of Jobs (Bloomberg)
One of the world’s biggest hedge funds, AQR Capital Management, is slashing its workforce, according to people familiar with the matter. It’s the second straight year that the quantitative money manager has cut jobs. Bloomberg’s Dani Burger reports on “Bloomberg Markets: European Open.” (Source: Bloomberg).

Lazard Asset Management launches Global Thematic Focus Fund (Hedge Week)
Lazard Asset Management Limited (LAML) has launched the Lazard Global Thematic Focus Fund, a UCITS-compliant Fund seeks to achieve long-term capital growth by investing primarily in an actively managed, diversified portfolio of 35 to 50 established companies located around the world. The companies will have a market capitalisation of greater than USD1 billion at the time of purchase, with securities listed or traded on Regulated Markets worldwide. The Lazard Global Thematic Focus Fund aims to identify structural and secular changes that will transform the global economy. Profound transformations are taking place in the global economy, as digitisation becomes universal and environmental threats, societal anxieties, and regulation gain ever-greater prominence.

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Citadel Securities Says GSA Stole Data While Recruiting Trader (Bloomberg)
A British hedge fund’s attempt to hire a senior trader from Citadel Securities has landed it in a London lawsuit filled with allegations that it obtained a secret trading strategy while using texts and Whatsapp messages to hide all traces of the plan. GSA Capital LLP accessed confidential information on a crucial automated trading model that cost Citadel more than $100 million to develop, the U.S. market maker said in a London court filing. In the latest case to highlight how far financial firms will go to protect trading ideas, Ken Griffin’s firm is seeking to block GSA from ever using the algorithm.

New Structured Credit Fund Unveiled (Hedge Nordic)
Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – After launching the first structured credit fund in Scandinavia in March of 2018, Stockholm-based asset manager Ymer SC is launching a second fund with the same strategy of capitalizing on illiquidity and complexity premia in the structured credit market. Ymer aims to hold the initial closing of the second fund, Ymer Alternative Credit, during January.

Bain Capital Seeks Up to $7 Billion for New Equities Fund (Bloomberg)
Bain Capital is looking to raise as much as $7 billion for a new equities fund, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest move by an alternative asset manager to broaden its investment offerings. Josh Ross, who started running the Boston-based firm’s public equities group in 2017, is overseeing the new fund along with the firm’s $1.3 billion global hedge fund, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Tiger Global Invests $200 million in BYJU’s; Valuation Jumps to $8 Billion (LiveMint.com)
New York-based hedge fund Tiger Global Management will invest $200 million in Indian unicorn Education tech major Think and Learn, which owns and operates K-12 learning app BYJU’S. The move will raise the valuation of India’s third-largest startup by around 45% to about $8 billion, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Top Hedge Fund Industry Trends for 2020 (Hedge Week)
Hedge fund industry assets to reach new all-time high in 2020 – Despite the plethora of negative articles about the hedge fund industry, hedge fund assets have reached an all-time high in 10 of the last 11 years. There is clearly a disconnect between the mainstream media’s coverage of the industry and the reasons driving investors to continue to allocate to hedge funds. Across the hedge fund investor landscape, we see an improvement in sentiment towards the industry. As net redemptions from hedge funds decline, we forecast industry assets to grow by 3.0 per cent over the next 12 months stemming primarily from hedge fund performance. Although we expect an overall increase in assets, it will not be enough to offset declining fees, causing overall revenue to decline.

This Hedge Fund Trounced the Market in 2019 While Most Others Fell Way Short. Here’s How Lansdowne’s Big Bets on Clean Energy Paid Off (Business Insider)
Lansdowne Partners operates one of the largest hedge funds for clean energy. It held $221 million in assets at the end of last year, according to an HSBC report. In 2018, the fund saw negative returns in the double-digits, which is what makes this year’s performance – returns of more than 37%, besting even the stock market – so stunning. Fund manager Per Lekander told Business Insider it’s due to three things: The falling costs of renewable energy; the world waking up to climate change; and the absence of “extremely” poor investments.

2019 Infrastructure Fundraising & Deals Update (Preqin.com)
“2019 has been an incredible year for infrastructure.” – Patrick Adefuye, Head of Real Assets. The infrastructure market reached new heights in 2019. A total of $98bn was raised from investors through 88 fund closures, including two $20bn+ funds – the largest infrastructure funds ever closed. Record fundraising pushed dry powder to $212bn, which is twice as much as at the end of 2015. At the start of 2020 there are 253 funds in market targeting a collective $203bn, suggesting that fund managers believe investor appetite is not yet sated.

Swiss Trader Spills Secrets of Global Insider Network (1) (Bloomberg Law)
He tapped a safe full of cash to pay off corrupt stock tipsters and used phony invoices for artwork sales to mask some payments. He stole information from his banker girlfriend, placed stories with journalists and disguised illegal trades by using other people to make share purchases. On Wednesday, Marc Demane Debih, a failed Swiss entrepreneur, revealed to a New York jury the secret methods he used to earn $70 million in illegal profit from a global insider-trading network. Testifying for U.S. prosecutors, he is the government’s star witness in the trial of Telemaque Lavidas, the first to face a…

Ex-Speaker John Boehner Calls Lying Former Congressman Chris Collins ‘Good Man’ as Defense Requests No Jail Time in Insider-Trading Case (CNBC)
Former House Speaker John Boehner called disgraced former New York congressman Chris Collins a “good man” in a letter submitted by Collins’ lawyer as part of a bid to win him a no-jail sentence in his insider-trading criminal case. Boehner was one of more than a dozen past and present Republican members of Congress to write letters supporting Collins that were included in the sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday by a defense lawyer.

A Major Shareholder at Winmark (NASDAQ: WINA) is Selling Shares (Analyst Ratings)
Yesterday, a Major Shareholder at Winmark (WINA), Ronald G. Olson, sold shares of WINA for $991.6K. Following Ronald G. Olson’s last WINA Sell transaction on March 22, 2019, the stock climbed by 44.6%. Based on Winmark’s latest earnings report for the quarter ending September 30, the company posted quarterly revenue of $19.68 million and quarterly net profit of $9.11 million.

Lamb Weston Holdings Inc (LW) Senior Vice President and CFO Robert Mcnutt Sold $793,075 of Shares (Guru Focus)
Senior Vice President and CFO of Lamb Weston Holdings Inc., Robert Mcnutt, sold 8,696 shares of LW on 01/08/2020 at an average price of $91.2 a share. The total sale was $793,075. Lamb Weston Holdings Inc is a producer, provider, and marketer of value-added frozen potato products. It is a supplier of frozen potato products internationally. Its products include puff, chips, steak cut fries, trim fries, appetizers, among others.

Sebi Disclosure Norms to Check Insider Trading IRK Corporate Honchos (TimesNowNews.com)
New Delhi: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) diktat, which instructed corporate bigwigs to divulge personal financial transactions, appears to have rubbed senior executives the wrong way as they are reportedly exploring all options to guard themselves against any unintended consequences. As per the market regulator’s ‘material financial relationships’ rules, company insiders will have to disclose details of all people with whom they have significant financial dealings, including such deals where the executive has paid money to a family member or relative – that amount to higher than 25 per cent of the individual’s last one-year earnings.

SEC Charges Individual with Orchestrating Offering Fraud (HedgeCo.net)
(HedgeCo.Net) The Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Donald G. Blakstad and two entities he controlled with engaging in the fraudulent offer and sale of over $3.5 million of securities. The SEC’s complaint alleges that, between July 2015 and May 2019, Blakstad induced investors to purchase the securities of companies he controlled, including both Energy Sources International Corporation and Xact Holdings Corporation, by making materially false and misleading statements and omissions about the use of investor proceeds and business operations. According to the SEC’s complaint, instead of using investor funds as promised, Blakstad misappropriated at least $2.2 million of investor funds. Blakstad allegedly spent the investor funds on personal entertainment, the purchase of a stake in a night club, and a luxury automobile. In July 2019, the Commission charged Blakstad for his role in a separate insider trading scheme.