Hedge Fund News: Ken Griffin, John Griffin, Alan Howard

Ken Griffin: Corporate Activism ‘Profoundly’ Good (CNBC)
Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn have a friend in Ken Griffin. “The role of the activist in the U.S. equity markets … has been to profoundly improve corporate governance in America,” Citadel hedge fund CEO Griffin said Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.”We can debate the merits of each run by activists at a given company in a given quarter.”


Scene Last Night: John Griffin on Mom, Theater and Shakespeare (Bloomberg)
John Griffin, founder of Blue Ridge Capital, said he never became as great a theater lover as his mom. “I was always interested in business,” the hedge-fund manager said Monday night at the off-Broadway Signature Theatre’s annual benefit. But Alice Griffin, who died in 2012 after a career spanning 60 years as a theater critic, editor and professor, did raise her son to appreciate the “double, double toil and trouble” that can take place on stage.

Alan Howard Says ‘Crazy’ to Hold Bonds With Negative Yields (Bloomberg)
Billionaire hedge fund manager Alan Howard said it’s “just crazy” to hold bonds with negative yields. “Many investors can’t afford to or want to hold bonds with negative rates,” Howard, 51, who runs Brevan Howard Asset Management, said Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. “The idea that you pay governments to hold their debt, it’s just crazy.”

Hedge Fund Elliott Not Seeking Board Seat At DMG Mori Seiki AG (Reuters)
Hedge fund Elliott, which holds a 15 percent stake in German machine-tool maker DMG Mori Seiki AG, is not seeking a seat on the supervisory board, DMG said on Tuesday, contrasting with the activist fund’s strategy for some of its other investments. However, Elliott would probably make a suggestion if asked to nominate a board member, a person familiar with the hedge fund’s thinking said. Japan’s DMG Mori Seiki Co Ltd has recently acquired a 52.5 percent stake in DMG Mori Seiki AG, and Elliott built its stake during the tender offer process.

JPMorgan’s Bruner Said to Plan Departure for Tradeweb Bond Job (Bloomberg)
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is losing credit trader Chris Bruner to Tradeweb Markets LLC, where he will help run the company’s corporate-bond trading unit, according to a person familiar with the matter. Following a career at some of the biggest players in credit markets, Bruner will move to Tradeweb in the summer as a managing director in its North American credit-trading business to focus on product development, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the details are private. Bruner, previously an algorithmic credit trader at hedge fund Citadel LLC, according to his profile on LinkedIn, will report to Tradeweb President Billy Hult, the person said.

Millennium Hedge Fund, Quant Trader Plan Venture (The Wall Street Journal)
For two decades, Igor Tulchinsky and his team of quantitative traders have helped fatten the returns of New York hedge fund Millennium Management LLC. Now, the roughly $28.5 billion firm and Mr. Tulchinsky are forming a joint venture that will allow the Belarussian trader to accept outside money and use a wider range of trading strategies, said people familiar with the matter, showing the value of star traders and the lengths firms are going to in order to keep them happy. The joint venture is expected to launch by the end of 2015 and marks the first time Millennium founder Israel “Izzy” Englander is creating a business with one of his portfolio managers, one of the people said.

Solus’s Pucillo Calls Troubled Toll Roads Best Distressed Wager (Bloomberg)
Christopher Pucillo, chief investment officer of Solus Alternative Asset Management, said his hedge fund has been finding some of the best distressed investments in toll roads financed prior to the 2008 credit crisis. Pucillo called the once-bankrupt Indiana Toll Road a “great opportunity” in a Bloomberg Television interview Monday at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California. He said the firm, which oversees $6 billion, is also considering debt of a road in Australia and a few in the U.S.

ISS Backs Nelson Peltz’ Demand for DuPont Board Seat-WSJ (Reuters)
U.S. proxy advisory firm ISS has recommended DuPont shareholders vote in favor of activist investor Nelson Peltz and another nominee joining the chemical conglomerate’s board, the Wall Street Journal reported. Peltz’s hedge fund Trian Fund Management, DuPont’s fifth-largest shareholder with a 2.7 percent stake, has for months criticized DuPont’s underperformance. Peltz had put up himself and three other nominees for election to DuPont’s board. DuPont had refused to add Peltz, but had said it was prepared to accept another nominee, John Myers.

Merger Surge Tempts Hedge Funds to Make a Bet (The Wall Street Journal)
Hedge funds that bet on mergers have had scant success in recent years. Now some are pinning their moneymaking hopes on Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s $70 billion planned takeover of BG Group PLC. The deal was announced earlier this month and leads a surge in European deal activity that hedge funds can place bets on. Hedge funds typically trade big mergers by buying shares in the target company and shorting the shares of the acquirer, profiting if the gap between the two narrows. Shorting means borrowing stock to bet on its price falling.