Jana Partners LLC, the activist investment firm now taking steps into socially responsible investing, has hired a portfolio manager and analyst to help oversee its effort of pushing companies to become better corporate citizens.
Eighteen months ago, finance experts believed the hedge fund industry was losing power as a global player in the finance world. So much so that according to Tabby Kinder, the Hedge Fund Standards Board was “debating a name change in an effort to distance itself from a term that [had] become increasingly contentious.”
But that was last year. A lot can change in 12 months and today the hedge fund industry is bouncing back. Rob Copeland wrote in a WSJ article:
“The average hedge fund is up 5.4% … while stock-focused hedge funds have gained 8.31%, [and] Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 11.9% including dividends, while the traditional 60-40 split of stocks and bonds would have earned 8.9%.”
Looking more closely at the winners in this hedge fund revitalization we see New York hedge fund Brahman Capital. Copeland explains the story of Brahman Capital Corp’s rise of its “big bet on hedge-fund favorite Valeant Pharmaceuticals” that initially plummeted, resulting in Brahman’s own fall with investors taking their money out. But then Brahman came back, selling the stock “and with what is now $3.8 billion of remaining cash pivoted to new ideas…[Today], Brahman’s main fund is up 17%.”
Copeland’s conclusion that “the gloom that had beset hedge funds [a couple of years ago] is [now] lifting and even giving way to outright optimism.” Indeed, according to Pacific Alternative Asset Management Co partner Alper Ince, “it just feels better” and if Brahman Capital’s example is anything to go by, Ince’s words lead us to believe that the reality of hedge funds today is closer to revitalization than a near demise.
At the end of May, Kim Jong-un’s right hand man General Kim Yong-chol arrived to meet with Mike Pompeo at JFK airport. The reason for the visit was to discuss the “on-off summit” between the two countries.
New York is encouraging women and minority groups to New York. Those who own companies in the area are being invited to join the hub of New York and open their businesses there. Investing $40 million into this promotion, the city of New York is very serious about this.
This money will be used to help these companies – often left out in the cold – to access affordable loans. As well there is a new M/WBE program ad campaign featuring local success stories to encourage these companies to relocate.
Hopefully this initiative will reverse the trend coined by Market Watch analyst that found “female managers are not only under-represented in technology companies, they’re also paid significantly less than men.”
Hedge fund executives were a different breed in the 1980s and 1990s to what they are today. Back then, hedge fund executives were working within a “culture of tough guy traders.”
Paloma Partners founder Donald Sussman recalls how in 1998, 37-year-old Columbia University computer science professor David Shaw – who had been working at Morgan Stanley with a “new secretive trading group that was using computer modeling” – asked for his opinion on an offer he had received from Goldman Sachs.
“Sussman’s career has been built on recognizing and financing hedge-fund talent, but he had never encountered anyone like David Shaw. The cerebral computer scientist would go on to become a pioneer in a revolution in finance that would computerize the industry, turn long-standing practices on their head, and replace a culture of tough-guy traders with brainy eccentrics — not just math and science geeks, but musicians and writers — wearing jeans and T-shirts.”
Shaw – and partner Peter Leventhol – “convinced [Sussman that] they could generate models that would identify portfolios that would be market-neutral and able to outperform others.” In other words, a large amount of money would be made generating minimal risk.
Sussman recommended Shaw rejecting the Goldman Sachs’ offer and Paloma Partners made a $30 million investment with D.E. Shaw. Today the company “has grown into an estimated $47 billion firm, earning its investors more than $25 billion — as of the end of 2016, tied for the third biggest haul ever.”
This is more than just a story about a successful company. It has resulted in a “quantitative revolution [which] has become the biggest trend in hedge funds today, capturing some $500 billion of the industry’s more than $3 trillion in assets and dominating the top tier. Seven out of the top ten largest funds are considered ‘quants,’ including D.E. Shaw itself.”
The massive transformation of strategy has resulted in a situation in which it has become “cheaper and easier for all investors to get into the game, leading to an explosion in trading volume.”
And that can be dated back to a preliminary chat Donald Sussman had with David Shaw in 1998.
On Assignment – America’s 2nd largest IT staffing firm – is in the process of purchasing the service technology and engineering company ECS Federal for $775 million (in cash). Once the sale goes ahead, the current CEO George Wilson will remain at the helm with his management team. Indeed, Wilson said that the firm will remain with the “same strategy, same management team, more resources.” One thing will change slightly though is the name; on April 2, 2018, when it is all final, the company will be called ASGN Inc.
Roy Kapani will be leaving the firm he established in 2001 but is very positive about the move calling it a “terrific outcome for our company, partners and talented employees.”
In its investor presentation, a deeper comprehension into the sale was put forward:
“One of the largest inhibitors of growth in the federal sector is timely finding and placing technical talent. On Assignment’s recruiting capabilities will enhance ECS’ performance and value proposition versus government services peers.”
The opportunities that will be available after this acquisition will be access to greater “digital, creative and life sciences [as well as providing clients of On Assignment with] access to ECS’ cyber, cloud, artificial intelligence and agile development capabilities.”
What is it like to really live and work in New York? For those thinking about the move, is this really doable? And, if so, is it a real challenge or do the benefits outweigh the difficulties? Here we take a very brief look at some of the factors to be considered.
First off the infamous WeWork phenomenon – that is not news in an of itself – is reaching a new level. Instead of simply using the space for work one can also kinda live there now too with the Financial District’s WeLive phenomenon. Spaces up to four bedrooms large can be rented out for a day or even a year! For those looking for something smaller that is possible too as studios can also be rented for short- and long-term uses.
The advantage of this is that everything comes included – all the silverware, utensils and anything possible that you would ordinarily need to live. You can make use of the bar, laundry room and swimming pool as well; it really has become a home away from home and for those traveling for work who need the space this is a great option. It also works for those considering a more permanent move – of themselves or their entire businesses – to the New York area. It is kind of like a trial to see how working would be in practice.
Another area we looked into was transportation. Reports show it’s actually not bad at all. According to Times contributor Jonathan Mahler, “In New York, movement—anywhere, anytime—is a right.” Unlike some other large cities, there is just one flat fare when it comes to the city’s public transportation – the Metro. So you “don’t’ get penalized for not being able to live centrally.” Which is actually very positive considering how pricey that can be. And that also probably accounts for why NYC has become such a hub of culture.
Developed by Andrew Cuomo, the Innovation Vouchers Bill seeks to facilitate the struggle small businesses and startups undergo. In trying to raise the money for their R&D work, they need backing. At the same time, educational institutions have the resources for the development of these ideas but lack the projects in real life. This venture from Cuomo puts the two groups together.
In other New York tax-related news, members of the city council showed support for retailers in the region with their approval for an action that would decrease the city’s Commercial Rent Tax. With this reduction, around 2,700 Manhattan SMB owners will benefit. As well, elected officials seeking to assist independent neighborhood retailers will positively impact quality of life in New York City. Once the neighborhoods become more attractive, there is an increase in property values and tax revenues in the region.
The latest announcement from these two bodies was the availability of $3.8 million as part of New York’s Geothermal Clean Energy Challenge. The idea behind this endeavor is to bolster the financing and installation of large-scale geothermal systems within state facilities.
While promoting the use of clean and sustainable energy, this also lends support to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s objective of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. But what’s even greater is that with this endeavor, New York facilities can now apply for an analysis to determine whether their buildings can be fitted with geothermal for heating and cooling purposes. Of course, this will be directly beneficial to New Yorkers who will be able to benefit from the technology by saving on energy bills.
In addition, given that the New York Power Authority (NYPA) just installed nearly 950 solar energy panels on the main roof of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, that makes the building NYC’s “largest solar photovoltaic facility.” The panels measure three by five feet and are placed so that they can get the most sun exposure since they face the Hudson River.