Posts Tagged: insider dealing
Same old, Same Old
March 30 2021
Perhaps there was a clue in the name: Archegos. Arch. Egos. As a description of many in finance it can scarcely be bettered. A novelist might even think it a tad too unbelievable, unless you were seeking to write satire.
But why bother when reality serves it up on a plate.
The founder of Archegos Capital Management, Bill Hwang described himself in 2008 as “like a little child looking for where can I invest to please our God.” Not long after – in November 2009 – Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein described bankers as “doing God’s work“. Oh dear. The full extent of what bankers had been doing had yet to reveal itself, whether to God or anyone else. Still, PR advisors would do well to note that such statements do not impress. Rather they tend to bring to mind the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote:
“The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons.”
Back to Mr Hwang. At the time of his humblebrag he was running Tiger Asia Management, which ended up being one of the largest investors in the expanding and profitable Asian market.
What God thought of Mr Hwang’s activities is unknown. What the SEC thought is, however. For in 2012 following a lengthy investigation, also involving the HK regulator, he pleaded guilty to insider trading and manipulation relating to trading in various Chinese stocks in late 2008 / early 2009. Surely not when he was trying to please God? Yes, apparently so.
A humongous fine inevitably followed. And almost as inevitably, the following year in 2013 Tiger Asia Management was wound up and Archegos rose, Phoenix-like in its place.
Now it is in trouble as a result of risky and very large investments having soured. Also in trouble are a number of banks which funded it, provided it with services and helped it trade. Questions no doubt are being asked – and, if not, they should be – about banks’ exposure to the firm, was this within risk limits, why so much leverage and so on. Other questions might also be asked: what due diligence was done? Was a fund run by a convicted insider dealer really a suitable client? How was it monitored? And so on.
Still, since bragging seems to be the fashion, might I modestly refer you to this article and my comments on what is often found when something goes wrong: “…so often, in virtually every case, there were bloody great red flags, or there was a clue that was missed.”
The name might have permitted a wry smile. Mr Hwang’s track record should not have done. Does no-one ever read this stuff?
WHAT GOES AROUND……
May 9 2018
According to David Kynaston’s history of the Bank of England (Till Time’s Last Stand), financial crises of one sort or another seem to occur at roughly 10-year intervals and, usually, in the autumn. Oh dear! Let’s hope then all the lessons of the last crisis have been properly learnt. After all, as a famous financial journalist wrote: ““The great wish on the part of the English people as to currency and banking is to be safe.” Well, quite – and as true now as when it was written – in 1844 by Walter Bagehot.
My take on the last 30 years or so of financial crises and how the sector is responding can be found here in May’s edition of FS Focus. (My thanks to John Mongelard of the ICAEW and Chris Evans, the editor, and his team.)
The article can also be found here (on page 32).