Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Hedge Fund Disaster


This one's going to jail - ours will go to the Lords

With his plush offices in London's swanky SW1, his unpleasant blustering manner, and his apparent command over hundreds of billions, Gordy Brownoff likes to present himself as the king of hedge fund managers.

But this week, investors watched with mounting anger as his flagship fund - the Notimeforanovice Britannia Bank Reconstuction Fund - chalked up further massive losses. Given that the fund was only launched in October, and has already lost gzillions, there are calls for Brownoff's immediate arrest.

Instead of which, he is set to launch an even bigger fund this very weekend.

"This man is either a complete idiot, or an outrageous fraudster, or most likely both," said one apoplectic investor. "My gerbil could do better than this - it's a poncy scheme. Why should we be forced to give our savings to a scam artist? Where has all our money gone?"

*****

BOM correspondent Nick L has been monitoring how Brown's bank hedge fund has been going.

Just to remind you, this is the fund that Brown set up last October to buy equity stakes in our High Street banks. In theory, it was only going to underwrite the issuance of new equity by RBS, HBOS and Lloyds, but of course, it ended up getting stuck with the entire shebang - nobody else wanted them at anything like the offer price.

How do we know it's a hedge fund? Because it follows a highly aggressive investment policy, holding positions in just three stocks, all in the same highly risky sector. Plus, it's hugely geared, having financed itself entirely with debt. The investors (ie we taxpayers) are jointly and severally liable to repay the debt in due course - which is a ticking time bomb even Bernie Madoff didn't inflict on his punters.

Brown's fund has performed abysmally. On a £28bn initial investment, Nick calculates it's already lost us £11.8bn, or 42%. Here are his figures:


So he bought the stocks at £6bn above their market value at the time, and since then, they've slumped by a further £5.8bn.

We can hardly say we weren't warned. As we've blogged before, Brown made such a hash of managing our gold reserves that he sold them at historic market lows (now officially known as the Brown Bottom - see this blog). Whereas the gold price is now around $850, he sold our gold at an average price of $275. He truly is King Midas in reverse.

As an investor, you'd be insane to entrust your savings to a lying twok like Gordy Brownoff.

So just explain again why it's different with our taxes?

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