Name Of New Hedge Fund Gives Pause For Thought

Date: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Author: Here is the City

The New York Times 'DealBook' column reports that ex-Lehman Brothers salesperson Edward Filippi has started a new hedge fund, and plans to commence trading next year. Nothing wrong with that. But the choice of the name of the hedge fund may given some investors pause for thought.
The name ? Ground Zero Strategic Commodities. One hedge fund manager told Here Is The City: 'Why not go the whole hog and call it Titanic Capital Management ? The name of a hedge fund (or any business for that matter) does count. Associating your hedge fund with the September 11th terrorist attacks might not be good for business. It's like callinga restaurant Cockroaches! I'm not sure it actually inspires confidence'.

In the meantime, The Times has got its hands on thetranscript of a telephone call which allegedly took place between a member of Nomura International'sHuman Resources departmentand headhunter Hogarth Davies Lloyd,which is suing Nomura for up to $148m for money itclaimsit is owedfollowing the introduction of several former Lehman employees to the firm. The telephone conversation doesn't reflect too well on Nomura, but doubtlessis typical of many exchanges that go on every day all over the financial markets. The lesson ? Don't say anything on the telephone that may come back to bite you on the bum. Treat every telephone call as if it is being taped - because it probably is!

And The Daily Telegraph reports that staff at Merrill Lynch are in line for retention bonuses this year, as Bank of America (which now owns Merrill) moves to retain key staff. Although Here Is The City has been unable to ascertain whether this story is true, it would not be surprising if Bank of America were to put retention bonuses in place for certain key staff, as the bank will want to protect the Merrill franchise. There's not much point in upsetting investors and lawmakers over the association with Merrill, and then sitting back and watching top talent walk out the door. Bank of America and CEO Ken Lewis will only be vindicated over the Merrill purchase if Merrill starts to deliver strong earnings (and the firm is capable of doing this). Retention bonuses in these circumstances is surely just good business practice.

Bloomberg reports that the Swiss government is expected to soonsell its $5.6bn stake in UBS, now that the bank has settled its legal spat with the US government over the disclosure of the names of certain clients who may have evaded US taxes. US authorities had sought details of around 52,000 clients, but finally settled on just 4,450.

Finally, The Wall Street Journalthis week ran a comprehensive article on the subject of outplacement services in the US. Outplacement providers are described as increasingly offering 'standardized services, which some workers say offer little value'. Around 40% of employees who are offered outplacement apparently don't take it up, and some ask for cash instead. Defenders of outplacement services, however, say that 'standardized services' are often onlywhat hard-up businesses are prepared to pay for.