Hedge Fund and Insider Trading News: Warren Buffett, Phil Falcone, Third Point LLC, Bunge Ltd (BG), A. H. Belo Corp (AHC), and More

Warren Buffett Has a Problem With ‘Independent’ Directors (The New York Times)
Buffett’s big idea for better M&A advice: Berkshire Hathaway hasn’t done a big deal in years, as Warren Buffett explains in his latest annual letter to shareholders. Even so, he’s happy with his track record. Likening mergers to marriages, the legendary investor writes, “I would say that our marital record remains largely acceptable, with all parties happy with the decisions they made long ago.” He thinks others could do better. There is the ever-present risk of succumbing to “Wall Streeters bearing fees,” as he describes deal-hungry investment bankers. “At many companies, these super-salesmen might win,” he notes. “I do not, however, expect that to happen at Berkshire.”

Exclusive: Hedge Fund Third Point Targets British Insurer Prudential – Sources (Reuters)
(Reuters) – Hedge fund Third Point LLC has amassed more than a $2 billion stake in Prudential Plc (PRU.L) and plans to push Britain’s biggest insurer to split into two companies, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. Third Point’s demands could lead to a major shake-up at Prudential, only a few months after it spun out its British insurance and asset management businesses into a new company called M&G Plc (MNG.L).

Phil Falcone Really Knows How To Lever The Hell Out Of A Warhol (Deal Breaker)
In spite of having just sold a house for almost $80 million, former hedge fund manager Phil Falcone is apparently hard up for money. This is to an extent understandable, as piano-playing pigs don’t just feed themselves, and also the $70 million in settlements Falcone has reached in the last couple of years stemming from his inability to correctly pay his taxes, to say nothing of other potentially pricey litigation. So Falcone sold a couple of paintings to raise some cash, since he no longer has a hedge fund to borrow money from with which to cover said taxes.

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Hedge Fund Manager Gets Nearly 12 Years in Prison for Fraud (AI-CIO.com)
Hedge fund manager Nicholas Genovese has been sentenced to nearly 12 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to committing securities fraud by convincing investors to entrust him with more than $11 million dollars based on false and misleading information, according to the US Justice Department. He had also concealed the fact that he had prior felony convictions for fraud-related crimes. According to court records, Genovese began soliciting individuals in 2015 to invest in his New York-based hedge fund Willow Creek. He said he was part of the Genovese family that had owned the Genovese Drug Store chain in the New York area. The chain had been bought out by Eckerd Drugs in 1998 for $492 million, and he told investors he was an heir to the family’s fortune.

Tesla Supercharges Returns of Two Asia Hedge Funds in January (Bloomberg)
Tesla Inc.’s 56% share-price rally in January supercharged the returns of a pair of Asia-based hedge funds. Optimus Prime Asset Management Co. got most of its 14.5% gain last month from Elon Musk’s electric car company, according to a person familiar with the technology-focused hedge fund. Tesla and its suppliers were also major contributors to the 17.6% increase at a fund managed by CloudAlpha Capital Management Ltd.

Titan Sends Money Back to Investors (Hedge Nordic)
Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – Titan Opportunities Fund, a fund founded by Norwegian Espen Westeren, is shutting down. The fund started investing in June of 2016 after the massive price decline of crude oil hit both equity- and credit-related securities issued by oil companies. As “the market did not develop as we expected when we established the fund in June 2016,” Westeren tells Finansavisen, Titan Opportunities Fund will cease to operate and return the capital to its investors. The team running Titan Opportunities Fund relied on their cyclical investing experience, distressed investing expertise and sector specialization to invest in stocks and bonds issued by companies operating in cyclical and commodity-related sectors. The fund returned almost 57 percent since its launch in June 2016 to the end of 2017, followed by a loss of 23 percent in 2018 and a nearly three percent-decline in 2019.

Move Over, Elliott. Argentina’s New Bond-Market Nemesis Is Fidelity (The Wall Street Journal)
Argentina’s new adversary in the bond market is no highflying hedge fund. It’s Fidelity Investments. Nate Van Duzer is a Mormon Church bishop and former West Pointer who handles “special situations” for the Boston mutual-fund giant. This month he won a standoff with Argentina’s Buenos Aires province by calling the municipality’s bluff when it said it didn’t have enough money to make a $250 million payment, people familiar with the matter said.

The Hedge Funds Betting Against the Bookmakers (Hedge Week)
Several brand name hedge funds are ramping up bets against GVC Holdings, the sports betting and online gaming group home to the likes of Ladbrokes Coral and Foxy Bingo, as the UK gambling sector faces sweeping regulatory changes from April. Citadel Advisors, the long-running US manager led by Kenneth Griffin, has a 0.6 per cent bet against GVC, while Citadel Europe has a 1.23 per cent short position, according to regulatory disclosures.