Lansdowne, Marc Faber, LightSquared, Fairholme, TPG & GlobeOp, Cohen & LA Dodgers…

Lansdowne Flagship UK Hedge Fund Up 5.7 Pct In Jan (Reuters)

Lansdowne Partners, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund managers, saw its flagship UK fund return 5.7 percent in January, in a sign the industry is benefiting from a rebound in financial markets this year after a torrid 2011.

Paul Ruddock

Faber Says Stocks May Disappoint After April, May (Bloomberg)

Stocks may “disappoint” after April or May after a “strong open,” Marc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report, said in a Bloomberg television interview from Hong Kong.

Romney has Wall Street support, Gingrich more grass roots (Reuters hedge World)

Bill Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation breaks down for Reuters Insider Super PAC contributions to the 2012 presidential candidates. Filings show Mitt Romney has raised $30.2 million through the Restore Our Future Committee, including $1 million from John Paulson, $1 million from Julian Robertson, $1 million from Paul Singer, $750,000 from Chris Shumway, $500,000 from Louis Moore Bacon, $200,000 from Paul Tudor Jones, $100,000 from Lee Ainslie and $100,000 from Kenneth Griffin.

Analysis: Wall St. Cash Flows To Romney Over Obama (Reuters)

The captains of Wall Street have picked a presidential candidate for 2012 and it is Republican Mitt Romney, rather than Democratic President Barack Obama, campaign donation records show. As they line up behind Romney, banks and investment firms are being joined by a new generation of hedge fund and private equity managers with deep pockets.

Marathon Weighs Pipeline Spinoff (WSJ)

Under pressure from an activist investor, Marathon Petroleum Corp. said Wednesday it will explore spinning off its pipeline operations and will implement a $2 billion share buyback. The company made the move after activist hedge fund Jana Partners LLC said in January it had taken a 5.5% stake in Marathon, which it viewed as undervalued, according to a January securities filing.

LightSquared’s Falcone Didn’t Seek Weaker Probe, Harbinger Says (Bloomberg)

Senator Charles Grassley wrongly suggested that Philip Falcone and an adviser sought to weaken the lawmaker’s inquiry into U.S. handling of the billionaire’s LightSquared Inc. wireless venture, Falcone’s hedge fund said. Todd Ruelle, a telecommunications executive, “made no nefarious suggestions” and Falcone said “a wireless network for rural America would be a win,” Mark Paoletta, a Washington- based lawyer, said in a Jan. 31 letter responding to Grassley that Harbinger Capital Partners released today. The hedge fund invested $3 billion in LightSquared, which aims to offer high- speed data service to as many as 260 million people.

It Is So On: Phil Falcone Sends A Smack-Down Response Letter to Senator Grassley (Business Insider)

This is going to get really serious. As you know, Phil Falcone is pulling out all the stops to get his telecom company, LightSquared, up and running. One thing that stands in his way is approval from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration. They have to confirm that his system works well and doesn’t interfere with GPS communications.

Lightsquared – Some Comments (Bronte Capital)

I usually find Senator Charles Grassley’s attempts to provoke spats with big-name hedge fund managers tendentious. But in his spat with Falcone and Harbinger he is right on the money. Lightsquared deserves to fail and Grassley knows it. If you don’t know the background start with Bethany McLean’s excellent article on Phil and Lisa Falcone in Vanity Fair. I think McLean tries too hard to be balanced on the key policy issue of spectrum and Lightsquared – but McLean offers a good introduction to the issues. By contrast Grassley is not balanced but he is right. Here is why.

Bruce Berkowitz “What a horrible year for performance!” (Value Walk)

Bruce Berkowitz detailed his awful performance in 2011, two days ago. Below are the full details of the slaughter of 2011

Fairholme Fund 2011 Annual Report (My Investing Notebook)

…What a horrible year for performance! Market prices plunged in many of our Funds’ core holdings in spite of strengthening book values with huge reserving for legacy issues. Using the positions held in The Fairholme Fund, weighted for the Fund’s composition at the end of 2010 and 2011, the line graph on the next page illustrates this divergence in market prices to book values in the last two calendar years using the most recent, publicly available information for 2011 book values. …

Exclusive – GlobeOp takeover not yet done deal, share price rises sharply (HFM Week)

GlobeOp’s £508m ($800.5m) takeover by private equity firm TPG is not yet a done deal, with less than half of the fund administrator’s shareholders definitely behind the agreement, HFMWeek has learned. Analysts said the listed admin firm, whose share price rose sharply on this morning’s news to nearly 435p – TPG’s cash per share offer – would seek to convince investors about the deal during the coming days.

Facebook Files to Raise $5 Billion in Biggest Internet IPO (Bloomberg)

Facebook Inc., the social-networking website that in eight years changed the way the world communicates, filed to raise $5 billion in the largest Internet initial public offering on record. As the site’s popularity grew, banks, hedge funds and mutual fund companies started buying stock. In January 2011, Facebook said it raised $1.5 billion in a financing round led by Goldman Sachs that valued the company at $50 billion. Goldman Sachs, funds managed by the firm, and Digital Sky Technologies bought $500 million of stock, while Goldman Sachs offered $1 billion of shares to non-U.S. clients.

Wealthy Investors Shrug at Facebook IPO (Bloomberg)

Wealthy investors aren’t clamoring for a piece of Facebook Inc. (FB)’s initial public offering because some own the stock through private transactions while others shy away from risky technology deals, according to advisers. Signature, which oversees about $2.1 billion for families, has been invested in private equity and hedge funds that have owned Facebook for a few years, said Andrew Gorczyk, a portfolio manager for the Norfolk, Virginia-based firm. He declined to name the specific firms or funds.

Khosla’s Strategic Value Said to Raise $918 Million Distressed-Debt Fund (Bloomberg)

Strategic Value Partners LLC, the hedge fund founded by Merrill Lynch & Co. veteran Victor Khosla, said it raised $918 million from a distressed-debt fund to invest in underperforming assets. The Strategic Value Special Situations Fund II closed earlier this week at 53 percent above its original target of $600 million, the Greenwich, Connecticut-based asset manager said in a statement today. The fund will focus on distressed assets in Europe, after drawing investors from the region, the U.S., Australia, the Middle East and Japan.

Prosecutors Lining Up Financial Crisis Charges (WSJ)

It has been over three years since the infamous Autumn of 2008, and for much of that time calls have rung out from Congress, media members and activists to criminally charge the Wall Streeters that seemed to have taken advantage of what was, in hindsight at least, an incredibly gullible mortgage system. Though there have been earlier charges filed, like the case that failed against Bear Stearns hedge fund executives and other charges against smaller banks, those clamoring for penalties have wanted bigger fish reeled in.

Cohen Said to Plan Donating Gains From SAC Spinout as Investors Flag Risk (Bloomberg)

Steven A. Cohen plans to donate to charity any profits he makes from the former private-equity arm of the SAC Capital Advisors LP hedge fund, according to three investors.

Hedge Fund Managers To Outspend Bankers On London Homes (Reuters)

Shrinking bonus pools in the City of London will reduce bankers’ clout in the capital’s buoyant prime housing market this year, with hedge fund managers set to outspend them for the first time, data from Savills showed. The property consultancy said on Wednesday that while banker bonuses were a key factor behind rocketing London house prices in 2006-7, their importance has been overtaken by overseas investors and buyers from the hedge fund and private office-populated West End.

Results Dent FTSE As Miners Rise On M&A Boost (Reuters)

UBS said the recent gains — the FTSE 100 was up 3.9 percent in 2012 led by miners and banks — had been a low-volume rally driven by hedge fund buying and long-only investors had been on the sidelines. “Hedge fund gross leverage is now close to its post-Lehman highs and net leverage has also been on the rise,” it said.

Allstate’s Wilson Says Interest Rates Fuel Energy, Real Estate Investments (Bloomberg)

Allstate Corp. (ALL), the largest publicly traded U.S. auto insurer, is investing in energy and real estate as near record-low interest rates squeeze income from bonds, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Wilson said. Allstate’s holdings outside of bonds included $4.4 billion in limited partnership interests such as private-equity, real- estate and hedge funds at the end of the third quarter. The investment in real-estate funds jumped 54 percent in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, to $983 million, according to the most recent company filings.

Blackstone Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops 12% on Performance Fees (Bloomberg)

Blackstone Group LP, the world’s largest private-equity firm, said fourth-quarter profit fell 12 percent as performance fees and investment income declined. Blackstone, led by chief executive officer Stephen Schwarzman, has been ahead of rivals in raising new funds and last month closed on $16 billion for the sixth-biggest private- equity fund ever, according to London-based researcher Preqin Ltd. The firm over the past years expanded the fund of hedge funds business as well as its advisory group, which counsels companies on mergers and restructurings, to reduce reliance on private-equity.

Sony Doubles Loss Forecast (Bloomberg)

Sony Corp. more than doubled its annual loss forecast, underscoring the challenge for incoming Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai in reviving Japan’s biggest consumer-electronics exporter. “All they can do now is downsize by shutting unprofitable businesses and reducing the number of products,” said Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive officer at Myojo Asset Management Japan Co., a Tokyo-based hedge fund advisory firm. “It is inevitable.”

L.A. Police Investigate Sudden Death of Conceptual Artist Mike Kelley, 57 (Bloomberg)

Mike Kelley, an artist whose work incorporated stuffed animal toys, sculpture, props and painting along with performance and music, was found dead Tuesday night in his South Pasadena, California home. He was 57. His top works price at auction is $2.7 million, for a room-size installation of stuffed creatures. It belonged to hedge fund manager Adam Sender, who put it up for sale at Phillips de Pury in November, 2006.

Futures Climb as Mechel Advances on China Factory Boost: Russia Overnight (Bloomberg)

RTS stock futures rose and OAO Mechel (MTL) led U.S.-traded Russian equities higher as growth in U.S. and Chinese manufacturing bolstered commodities. “We’re seeing a very decent rally in Russian equities because the oil price is high, the Russian economy is growing and global growth is improving.” Roland Nash, chief investment strategist at Moscow-based hedge fund Verno Capital, which manages more than $150 million in Russia, said in a phone interview. “At some point this year, maybe now, the gap between Russian equities and the oil price will close.”

Green Mountain Profit Surges as Keurig Single-Cup Sales Gain (Bloomberg)

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. (GMCR), the maker of Keurig brand single-cup pods and brewers, reported first-quarter profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates as sales of K-Cups surged. The shares advanced. The coffee company has faced criticism from hedge fund manager David Einhorn that its market-share gains have peaked amid what he calls “a litany of accounting questions.”

13 Cheap US Stocks Insiders Bought Recently (Insider Monkey)

We track corporate insiders because we believe that they have an edge over ordinary investors. Academic research has shown that insider purchases on average outperform the market in the following 12-month period. Even small insider purchases are marginally profitable. The reason is simple. Insiders usually have a lot of exposure to their companies’ performance. They will only increase their exposure when they have strong reasons to believe that their purchases have a high probability of being profitable.

9 Dividend Stocks Insiders Are Bullish About (Market Watch)

During the past few years, the financial markets have been hit by one crisis after another and central banks all over the world have been applying inflationary monetary policies to stimulate the market. For example, the Fed has committed to the ultra-low interest rates until the end of 2014. We do not like these expansionary policies and we are concerned that these policies will lead to inflation in the near future. Therefore, we have been recommending investors to play defensively by purchasing high dividend yielding stocks instead of long term Treasury bonds. One of the best ways of picking dividend stocks is to focus on what corporate insiders are bullish about. Insiders understand their companies much better than ordinary investors, and they sometimes have material non-public information. Insider purchases on average beat the market over the next 12-month period.

EuroHedge Awards 2011 (Hedge Fund Intelligence)

The EuroHedge Awards celebrate fund excellence in the European hedge fund industry. The awards themselves are regarded as the most prestigious and accurate in the industry, and the hedge fund community turns out in force to enjoy this stylish occasion. Over 900 hedge fund managers, investors, and other industry professionals will come together to celebrate the achievements of the best performing funds of the previous year. If you want to meet the European hedge fund industry, then this is the event to be at.

Cohen Set To Buy Mets Stake (FINalternatives)

Steven Cohen may yet own the Los Angeles Dodgers. But he still hasn’t given up hope of buying a chunk of his favorite baseball team. The SAC Capital Advisors founder is expected to buy one of the 4% stakes in the New York Mets currently on offer. The Mets plan to sell 10 such stakes—although the team’s current owners plan to buy at least two of the slices—to raise $200 million in an effort to pay down the team’s huge debt, while simultaneously allowing Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz to maintain control of the team.

Judge OKs Hedge Fund Claim Against WaMu Before Bankruptcy Hearing (FINalternatives)

A federal bankruptcy court judge has approved a hedge fund’s claim against Washington Mutual. Tranquility Master Fund claims it was misled into buying $71 million worth of mortgage-backed securities from the bankrupt bank. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Mary Walrath ruled yesterday that the hedge fund can asset claims of up to $10 million for the purpose of voting on WaMu’s latest bankruptcy exit plan. Walrath will consider that plan later this month.

Goldman Fund Buys Piece Of Trafalgar Co-Founder’s New Firm (FINalternatives)

Goldman Sachs’ private equity fund of hedge funds has consoled itself over Lee Robinson’s departure from Trafalgar Asset Management by taking a stake in his new hedge fund. Goldman’s Petershill Fund, which invests in hedge fund management firms, was given the right to invest in new ventures set up by Robinson if he were to leave Trafalgar. He did last year, setting up Altana Wealth. Petershill, which bought one-fifth of Trafalgar in 2008, has now exercised that option.

Colorado Fire & Police To Begin Monthly Hedge Fund Hires (FINalternatives)

The Colorado Fire & Police Pension Association is set to begin a $270 million hedge fund program with its first in a series of monthly hires. The $2.9 billion public pension fund plans to invest about $35 million with a long/short equity hedge fund in March. The FPPA is currently conducting due diligence on the lucky hedge fund, which was not identified.

Claren Road’s Fahey Faces Celebrity Uproar Over Planned Malibu Home (FINalternatives)

Claren Road Asset Management co-founder Sean Fahey isn’t doing much to endear himself to his future California neighbors. Fahey plans to demolish a seven-year-old Malibu mansion to build a new, more conventional dwelling. But the New York hedge fund manager’s planned two-story Mission-style home has Point Dume residents in lather over the things that Malibu residents cherish most: privacy and ocean views.

Unigestion Names Gougenheim Replacement (FINalternatives)

With its former hedge fund chief preparing for the launch of his first independent hedge fund, Unigestion formally named Nicolas Rousselet as Philippe Gougenheim’s successor.

Viteos Expands To Asia Pacific Region (HFN)

Hedge fund administrator Viteos is expanding its services to the Asia Pacific region. Initially, the expansion will focus on the Hong Kong and Singapore investment management market, according to a company statement.

Arden Hires HedgeMark For Risk Reporting (HFN)

New York-based fund of hedge funds management firm Arden Asset Management has selected HedgeMark Risk Analytics to provide position level risk reporting and data aggregation.

Stock Picks From Fed Officials (CNN Money)

One Fed official owns thousands of acres of farmland and at least $1 million in gold. Many own individual blue chip stocks, while another appears to hold no major assets other than his home and an employee benefit plan. Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Fed, is one of the richest of the 12. He accrued a portfolio of at least $21 million after working 22 years in the financial industry as a banker, stock broker and hedge fund manager.

Preet Bharara Makes TIME Cover (CNN Money)

Preet Bharara isn’t The Protester. But he still made the latest cover of TIME Magazine (a sister publication to Fortune). Bharara is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, responsible for a series of insider trading convictions that included hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. From the story, written by Massimo Calabresi and Bill Saporito:…

Stenham AM Hires New Head of Risk (HFM Week)

Stenham Asset Management, the $2.7bn fund of hedge funds (FoHF) manager, has hired a new head of risk management and quantitative research. Pablo Balan, who joined the company in the last quarter of 2011, is a member of its investment advisory committee and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of risk across Stenham’s portfolios.

Fortress Group: January Was Likely Great for Most Hedge Funds (Value Walk)

Fortress fund manager Michael Novogratz talked about his fund’s investment strategy with Bloomberg TVs Erik Schatzker and Stephanie Ruhle. Novogratz talked about improving investing conditions for 2012, and said that “I bet January returns were great for most hedge funds because we’re seeing a breakdown of correlation.

Berkshire’s BNSF to spend $3.9 Billion on its Rail Network (Value Walk)

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) plans to spend $3.9 billion on network upgrades this year. The railroad, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., says that its capital spending plan is an increase of $400 million over its 2011 allocation of $3.5 billion. As the economy shows signs of improvement and revenue from freight traffic increases, the major freight railroads of the country, which include BNSF, together plan to spend about $13 billion this year, an increase of $1 billion from the previous year. The investment will “ensure our infrastructure remains strong and improve the efficiency of our operations,” Matthew Rose, CEO of the BNSF, said in a statement.

Ader To Deploy $1 Billion To Small And Midsize Hedge Funds (Hedge Co. Net)

Ader Investment Management (AIM) has launched the Accelerator Fund Partners LP, a funding platform for hedge funds looking to boost assets under management and enhance their distribution into family offices and fund of funds. Individual manager allocations are expected to range from $25 million up to $100 million.

Hedge Funds Should Brace Themselves For Aggressive SEC, Experts Warn (COO Connect)

Hedge funds should brace themselves for an increasingly aggressive and alert Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it has been warned. Registration and Form PF (Private Fund) reporting requirements will enable the SEC to have greater oversight of hedge fund operations. “Reporting requirements will make the industry more transparent and the SEC will therefore now have more information about hedge fund portfolio positions than they did previously,” said Patrick Shea, managing director of HedgeOp Compliance in New York.

Friedberg’s Global Macro Fund Posts 40% For 2011 As Strategy Shifted To Respond To Market Volatility (Opalesque)

Friedberg Mercantile Group’s flagship fund, Friedberg Global-Macro Hedge Fund Ltd, was down 8.8% in Q4 but was up 40.9% overall for 2011. Comparatively, the Dow Jones Credit Suisse Global Macro index was up 0.38% in 2011. The Cayman-domiciled fund launched in 2001 is a traditional discretionary global macro fund managed by Albert Friedberg. It manages $964.2m and has returned 495% since inception. Niagara Capital Partners Ltd., based in Toronto, is the international sales agent – the fund is not available to U.S. investors.

What Hedge Funds Are Playing Eastman Kodak’s Bankruptcy (Hint: One Of Them Is Greenlight Capital) (Distressed Debt Investing)

Last night, Akin Gump, as attorneys for the ad hoc group of second lien note holders of Eastman Kodak, filed the ownership of Eastman Kodak securities for its members under Bankruptcy Rule 2019.  I have written about Rule 2019 in the past and I expect a more detailed post coming from one of our guest contributors later in the week.  The quick and dirty summary:  The new Rule 2019 requires affiliated groups of stakeholders (read: ad hoc groups) to disclose their economic interests in a debtor.

HFMWeek Daily Snapshot – 2 February (HFM Week)

Hot Links: Betting Big (The Reformed Broker)

Morning News: February 2, 2012 (Crossing Wall Street)

10 Thursday Mid-Day Reads (The Big Picture)

MF-ed Up, Hedge Fund Managers And The Super Pacs, Falcone Brawls With Grassley And More (Reuters Hedge World)