ValueAct’s Ubben Cheers BlackRock’s New Stance on Climate Change (Reuters)
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Investor Jeffrey Ubben, already betting there is money to be made from coaxing corporations into being better citizens, gained an ally on Tuesday when BlackRock Inc chief Laurence Fink told companies to tackle climate change or face his wrath. Ubben, who founded $17 billion ValueAct Capital in 2000, spent a year building an ESG portfolio and is fast becoming one of Wall Street’s biggest evangelists for investments with strong environmental, social and governance components.
Trump Trolled Tom Steyer After He Quoted the President Saying Democrats would ‘Destroy the Economy in 15 Minutes’ (Business Insider)
President Donald Trump shared a misleading video trolling Tom Steyer after the Democratic presidential candidate quoted Trump during Tuesday night’s primary debate. In the early hours of Wednesday, the president retweeted a clip in which Steyer said, “Democrats are going to destroy the economy in 15 minutes if they get in control.” “I agree with him on this, 100%,” Trump commented on the video. “But why would anyone vote Democrat? We are setting all time records with the economy!”
Will Hedge Fund Elliott Accept Only a Small French Profit? (Bloomberg)
Activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. and its French tech consultancy target Capgemini SE face the same test: Do they mean what they say? Capgemini SE this week buckled to pressure from Elliott and other minority shareholders, raising its bid for local rival Altran Technologies SA. The uplift, half a euro per share, or 4%, is a derisory carrot to tempt refuseniks to accept a deal widely considered cheap. But Capgemini is also wielding a stick: A statement that it won’t make another offer to buy Altran for 18 months if shareholders snub this one.
Hedge Fund Performance – The Elephant in the Room (Hedge Week)
As the title of this article suggests, evaluating hedge fund performance over the last decade can be a little awkward, and give rise to a variety of opposing viewpoints. In that sense, it should make for a fascinating panel discussion at ABN AMRO Clearing’s Amsterdam Investor Forum (AIF) 2020, which takes place at the bank’s headquarters in Amsterdam on 5 February. Speaking to Hedgeweek ahead of the event, one of the panellists, Wilrik Sinia, Founding Partner and Director of Mint Tower Capital Management, points out that since 2010, “the tide has been receding for hedge funds as investors have sought to ride the wave of low-cost, passive investment returns”.
Activist Hedge Funds Stepped Up Calls for Asset Sales and Spin-offs in 2019: Data (Reuters)
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hedge funds that push for change at corporations stepped up their demands for asset spin-offs and sales last year, making them part of nearly half of all activist investor campaigns waged in 2019, according to data released on Wednesday. “A record 99 campaigns with an M&A-related thesis were launched in 2019,” said Jim Rossman, the head of shareholder advisory at Lazard, which compiled the statistics. Calls for companies to be sold outright or for certain units to be divested accounted for 47% of last year’s activity, up from 35% in previous years, Rossman said.
Prime Brokers Skittish on Risk in Options Plays (HFAlert.com)
A change in risk requirements that Jefferies’ prime-brokerage unit imposed on options-trading hedge fund clients has resulted in problems for some of those managers. The tougher rules, which generally require managers who trade options to provide more upfront collateral, are the result of a recent risk review undertaken by Jefferies. The change led volatility-arbitrage firm NorCap Advisors to abruptly switch prime brokers at yearend, causing it to exit some positions early and give up expected gains. In another case, Lattice Capital was forced to modify its trading rather than try to raise money to meet the increased risk-equity collateral.
New York Court Vacates $91 Million Payout to Former Hedge Fund Employees (The Wall Street Journal)
A New York state appeals court on Tuesday ordered a retrial in a 2019 jury case that would have seen hedge-fund firm Touradji Capital Management pay roughly $91 million to two former employees. The decision vacates the $91 million judgment and extends what has already been a decadelong battle between commodities trader Paul Touradji and two of his former portfolio managers, Gentry Beach and Robert Vollero, over compensation they said they were owed.
Keeping the Sleeves Rolled Up (Hedge Nordic)
Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – Activist investor Accendo was among the Nordic hedge fund industry’s top performers of 2019 with a full-year return of 45.6 percent, with the only detractor from performance being the depreciation of the Swedish krona. “In 2019 all of our portfolio holdings contributed positively to performance,” Elise Auer, Director of Investor Relations at Accendo, tells HedgeNordic. 2019 was a stable yet fruitful year for Accendo, in which “we have been working very well together in our composition of the core team and senior advisors.”
Barclay Hedge Fund Index Gains 10.70% in 2019, the Largest Annual Return Since 2013 (Opalesque.com)
The hedge funds industry gained 10.70%, the largest annual return since 2013 when the Barclay Hedge Fund Index gained 11.12%. By comparison, the S&P 500 Total Return Index posted a 31.49% return in 2019. BarclayHedge reported that hedge funds finished 2019 on a high note in December, posting an industrywide 1.73% return for the month. By comparison, the S&P 500 Total Return Index was up 3.02% in December. As per the report, all but one hedge fund index was in the black in December as several positive economic developments offset the impact of negative indicators. Equity markets finished the year strong, with U.S. stocks enjoying their best year since 2013 when the S&P 500 Total Return Index gained 32.4%, it said.