Blackstone Group has been recruited to save the teetering collateralized debt obligations businesses of Australian manager Basis Capital and US firm Bear Stearns Asset Management. Basis, which manages AUD2bn of assets, said last week that a downturn in valuation of CDO's backed by sub-prime mortgages stung its Aust-Rim Opportunity Fund and Yield Alpha Fund.
Two Bear Stearns' funds are almost worthless due to CDO-related losses. Martin Gudgeon, who was the former chief executive of Close Brothers Corporate Finance until last year, leads Blackstone's restructuring effort. Separately, Standard & Poor's said it might downgrade ratings of 33 tranches of collateralized debt worth USD1.76bn.
Credit Suisse, meanwhile, hired three people to its group that runs USD20 billion of assets in alternatives. Derek Jones, who previously worked at venture capital firm Oncore Capital, has joined Credit Suisse's private equity fund-of-funds business in New York as a partner. His attention is focused on the workings of a unit overseeing investments in emerging hedge fund managers. Mina Pacheco Nazemi, formerly a senior investment associate of international private equity at GE Asset Management, has joined as a vice president to also work on its emerging manager business. Nazemi is located in Los Angeles.
Michael Vranos of Ellington Financial Management is asking investors for USD750m to fund a new company that specializes in risky residential mortgage loans. In return, Vranos is selling shares in Ellington.
Data firm Hedge Fund Research said hedge funds rung up USD58.7bn of assets in the last quarter. So far this year, hedge funds have received a record USD1.74tn. Relative value arbitrage, equity hedge and event-driven strategies benefited the most from inflows. Emerging market funds performed the best and equity non-hedge was the second-best performing category.
US firm Lighthouse Partners got sold to Australia's HFA Holdings for USD750m. Lighthouse is majority owned by its management while SunTrust Bank holds 25%. The deal takes HFA's total assets to USD8bn and a geographical footprint in eight cities.
The USD248bn California Pension Retirement System reported gains of 19% for the 12-months ended June 30, 2007. Its private equity and venture capital investments rose 23%. Calpers has 6% of its assets invested in 160 private equity funds. It plans to roughly double its allocation to hedge funds and corporate governance to USD10bn.
Brian Hunter, former energy trader at now defunct Amaranth Advisors, is fending off an effort by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate his trading of natural gas contracts. In a lawsuit filed against the regulator, Hunter said the agency exceeded its power by trying to bring an enforcement action against him. Hunter said the FERC planned to come out with an enforcement action against him as soon as this week. The suit argues that Commodity Futures Trading Commission has jurisdiction over futures markets, not the FERC. The CFTC is also looking into Amaranth's trading activities.
Goldman Sachs is believed to be raising an USD18bn mezzanine fund. Last year, Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners raised USD9bn for its fourth fund, which claims to be the world's biggest. Goldman's private equity unit raised a record-breaking USD20bn for its sixth fund earlier this year.