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Hedge Fund News: George Soros, Paul Singer, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

Editor’s Note: Related tickers: JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS), Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)

SOROS FUND MANAGEMENTSoros Spends Nearly $7 Million to Push Gun Control (NewsBusters)
Five U.S. gun control groups have received almost $7 million combined from liberal billionaire George Soros, including the most prominent one, the Brady Campaign. The Soros contributions to these five groups total an astounding $6,727,966 between 2000 and 2011. The American Bar Association, a liberal group of lawyers, received $4,093,946 from Soros. According to their site, “the ABA believes that lawyers share a special responsibility to help create a just and secure society in which firearms are well-regulated.” President Laurel Bellows urged for more than just background checks back in January, including “full integration of state and local mental heal records into the National Instant Check System” and supported an assault weapons ban.

Bondholders: Ciao, Italy (NYPost)
Argentine bondholders on both sides of the country’s battle with hedge-fund mogul Paul Singer can agree on one thing: The Italians should butt out. The holdout bondholders, led by Singer’s Elliott Management, on Monday asked an appeals court to reject a brief by the Italian bondholders, who are also holdouts. Problem is, the Italians aren’t party to this claim. The Elliott group, should legal rulings stand, will get $1.43 billion when the other, so-called “exchange” bondholders are paid. The exchange bondholders also opposed the Italian petition, as they think proposals of both sets of holdouts would deprive them of their property.

Japanese Pensions Selling JGBs on Abe’s Stimulus, JPMorgan Says (Bloomberg)
Japanese pensions are selling domestic bonds as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s efforts to spur inflation stoke concern rising interest rates will erode the value of their holdings, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) survey showed. Retirement funds held 29 percent of their assets in Japanese bonds at the end of March, down from about 31 percent the previous year, a survey by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM)’s Tokyo-based asset management unit showed. Alternative asset holdings including hedge funds increased 2.3 percentage points to 11.8 percent, according to the survey, which was based on 128 pension plans overseeing a total 11.7 trillion yen ($117 billion).

Agecroft Partners hires European marketing head (HedgeWeek)
Sauls brings over 20 years of institutional experience marketing hedge funds and derivative products on a global basis. Before Agecroft Partners Sauls spent 10 years with Calatrava Securities, where he was director of marketing and chief executive of its affiliated commodity pool operator. In these rolls he raised capital from both European and US investors for multiple hedge fund managers and became acquainted with all aspects of hedge fund operations, risk management, administration, compliance and reporting. Prior to Calatrava, Sauls held senior marketing and sales roles at both Fimat USA and Sanwa Futures, where he developed a strong understanding of global capital markets and international investors.

Hedge fund valuation practices under scrutiny (Risk)
Hedge funds are hiring independent experts to price complex and illiquid assets as investors and regulators intensify their scrutiny of valuation practices. “Valuation is a huge reputational risk,” says Cyrus Borzooyeh, chief financial officer at Reservoir Capital Group, a hedge fund that invests in public and private markets. The practice of hiring a fund administrator to essentially “rubberstamp the manager’s [pricing] model is no longer acceptable” for regulators or investors, adds Borzooyeh, who was speaking on a panel at the GaimOps conference in the Cayman Islands.

Hedge fund Eton Park Capital’s small cap picks (MarketWatch)
Eric Mindich founded Eton Park Capital in 2004 after 15 years at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS); during his time there, he had become the youngest partner in Goldman’s history. We track Eton Park’s quarterly 13F filings alongside those of other hedge funds and other notable investors as part of our work developing investing strategies; we have found, for example, that the most popular small cap stocks among hedge funds outperform the S&P 500 by 18 percentage points per year on average. …Mindich and his team reported a position of 1.8 million shares in Huntington Ingalls HII +1.72% at the end of the fourth quarter. Huntington Ingalls is a $2.5 billion market cap company which builds and repairs ships for the Navy and Coast Guard.

Hedge Fund Pros Pressured To Break Rules (WealthManagement)
A survey recently commissioned by the Hedge Fund Associationproduced some statistics bound to raise investor eyebrows. In the quest for alpha, nearly half of hedge fund professionals surveyed believe their competitors engage in illegal activity, more than one third have personally felt pressure to break rules, and about one third have witnessed misconduct in the workplace. To boot, more than half of respondents reported the SEC is ineffective in detecting, investigating and prosecuting rule violations. Survey respondents, however, reported overwhelmingly — by more than 90 percent — that their firms put the best interests of investors first.

India Up To 47 Hedge Funds (Finalternatives)
India’s nascent hedge fund industry is growing apace. The country’s Securities and Exchange Board has given approval to 47 alternative investment funds. Most of the new funds received the green light in November, February and March. SEBI issued the rules creating AIFs a year ago, but had approved only 12 through October. Among the new entrants to the Indian hedge fund market are Ambit Alpha Fund, Arthveda Alternative Investment Trust, Karvy Capital Alternative Investment Trust, Motilal Oswal Alternative Investment Trust and HDFC AMC Real Estate.

Goldman Sachs Alum’s Hedge Fund Said To Return 8% (Fa-Mag)
Azentus Capital Management Ltd., led by former Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) proprietary trader Morgan Sze, returned 8 percent before fees this year through yesterday, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Azentus’s assets stand at $1.6 billion, said the person, who declined to be identified because the information is private. Hong Kong-based Azentus manages a global multistrategy hedge fund focused on Asia. Roger Denby-Jones, Azentus’s chief operating officer, declined to comment. The Eurekahedge Multistrategy Hedge Fund Index, tracking the performances of 254 pools globally, returned 2.3 percent in the first three months.

Should Germany Exit the Euro? (Project-Syndicate)
Last summer, the financier George Soros urged Germany to agree to the establishment of the European Stability Mechanism, calling on the country to “lead or leave.” Now he says that Germany should exit the euro if it continues to block the introduction of Eurobonds. Soros is playing with fire. Leaving the eurozone is precisely what the newly founded “Alternative for Germany” party, which draws support from a wide swath of society, is demanding. Crunch time is fast approaching. Cyprus is almost out of the euro, its banks’ collapse having been delayed by the European Central Bank’s provision of Emergency Liquidity Assistance, while euroskeptic parties led by Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi garnered a combined total of 55% of the popular vote in the latest Italian general election.

India, China to be sources of global economic growth: American economist Nouriel Roubini (EconomicTimes)
Marking out the importance of emerging markets in global economy, noted American economist Nouriel Roubini on Wednesday said that China, India and other emerging markets are going to be sources of global economic growth. Roubini, known for predicting US housing market collapse and worldwide recession was addressing the World Trade Centre General Assembly. The theme of the 44th General Assembly of the World Trade Centres Association, New York, was ‘The new economic order and WTCs’.

$20M Not Enough for Casino (NBCPhiladelphia)
The proposed sale price for one of Atlantic City’s struggling gambling halls is too low, according to a top lender. Investor Carl Icahn says he won’t approve the proposed $20 million sale of Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. As the senior lender, Icahn tells The Press of Atlantic City the price is too low. Icahn declined to say what he thinks the deal is worth. “It’s as black and white as it can be: They can’t sell that casino without our consent. It’s not going for anywhere close to $20 million,” Icahn told the paper. Icahn says he holds the mortgage for both Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort. His office says the mortgage totals $289 million.

The Carl Icahn Boom Continues With Netflix (Forbes)
Carl Icahn‘s roll continues. For the last few years, Icahn has knocked out impressive investment returns and stock market gains, but 2013 is turning into a blockbuster year. The home entertainment business has not always been kind to Icahn and his increasing fortunes in recent years have been fueled by oil industry-related investments, but in 2013 the story is Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) +24.44%. Netflix’s shares soared by more than 20% in Tuesday morning trading after the company reported that first quarter revenue surpassed $1 billion for the first time as Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) continued to add subscribers to its streaming service.

Hedge Fund Association Teams up with The Appointment Group for Exclusive Travel Partnership (BusinessWire)
The Hedge Fund Association (“HFA”) today announced that it has teamed up with global travel management company The Appointment Group (“TAG”) as its exclusive travel partner. In this partnership, the HFA’s members will be able to take advantage of TAG’s quality service offerings geared specifically for the hedge fund traveler, which include specially negotiated hotel rates and international airfares, along with in-house 24-hour customer service to meet their complex and ever changing schedules. “Given the constant travel required by hedge fund executives, we are looking forward to offering the HFA’s members a hassle-free and cost-effective way to book their trips, with the highest possible service and other attractive amenities for their business excursions,” said Daniel Price, Managing Director, TAG.

Apple’s cash plan takes heat off Cook, buys him time (Reuters)
Tim Cook wants investors to “think different” about Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL): less as a hyper-growth startup-like company and more as a mature but robust technology corporation with the world’s most lucrative dividend. If Wall Street follows Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s famous advertising slogan of old, it may relieve some of the pressure on Apple’s chief executive, quiet investors’ grumbling about its recent share price slide, and buy the company time to do what it says it does best: come up with and market new products. On Tuesday, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it would return $100 billion to shareholders by the end of 2015, in part by raising its dividend 15 percent and in part by increasing its share buyback program six-fold to $60 billion.

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