Bloomberg

One of the world’s greatest hidden fortunes has been wiped out for days

(Bloomberg) – From his seat high above Midtown Manhattan, directly across from Carnegie Hall, Bill Hwang quietly built one of the greatest fortunes in the world. Even on Wall Street, few noticed him – until suddenly everyone did.His private investment firm, Archegos Capital Management, is now at the center of one of the biggest margin calls of all time – a multi-billion dollar fiasco of secret market bets that were used dangerously effectively and at lightning speed made up of stocks dumped by banks in the past few days – ViacomCBS Inc., Discovery Inc. GSX Techedu Inc., Baidu Inc. – all of which had soared this year and sometimes confused traders who couldn’t understand why . Part of Hwang’s portfolio, which has been trading in blocks since Friday by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co., was worth nearly $ 40 billion last week. Bankers reckon Archegos’ net capital – essentially Hwang’s fortune – had reached north of $ 10 billion. And as divestments continue to grow, estimates of his company’s total positions continue to rise: tens of billions, $ 50 billion, even more than $ 100 billion. It was gone in just a few days. “I’ve never seen anything like it – how quiet it was, how focused, and how quickly it went away,” said Mike Novogratz, a career macro investor and former Goldman Sachs partner who has been trading since 1994. “This must be one of the greatest personal wealth losses in history. “Late Monday in New York, Archegos broke days of silence over the episode:” This is a challenging time for the Archegos Capital Management family office, our partners and employees, “said Karen Kessler, company spokeswoman, in an email Mail sent statement. “All plans are discussed while Mr. Hwang and the team determine the best way forward.” The cascade of trade losses has impacted from New York to Zurich to Tokyo and beyond, leaving myriad questions unanswered, including the big ones: How could anyone take such big risks by so many banks under the noses of regulators around the world get supported. Part of the answer is that Hwang was set up as a family office with limited oversight and then used financial derivatives to disclose large stakes in companies without ever having to collect. Another reason is that global banks embraced him as a lucrative customer, despite a record of insider trading and attempted market manipulation that pushed him out of hedge fund business a decade ago. A student of hedge fund legend Julian Robertson, Sung Kook “Bill Hwang joined Tiger Asia Management and Tiger Asia Partners after settling a 2012 SEC civil lawsuit alleging insider trading and manipulation of Chinese bank stocks. Hwang and the firms paid $ 44 million, and he agreed to be banned from the investment advisory industry. He soon opened Archegos – Greek for “one who leads the way” – and structured it as a family office. Assets are generally exempt from registration as investment advisors with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. So you don’t have to disclose their owners, executives or their administrations – rules to protect outsiders who invest in a fund. This approach makes sense for small family offices, but as they grow to the size of a hedge fund whale, they can still pose risks, this time to outsiders in the broader market. “This again raises questions about the regulation of family offices. Said Tyler Gellasch, a former SEC advisor who now heads the Healthy Markets trading group. “The question is, if it’s just friends and family, why do we care? The answer is that they can have a significant impact on the market, and the SEC’s regulatory system does not clearly reflect that, even according to Dodd-Frank. “Valuable CustomerArchegos entered into trading partnerships with companies such as Nomura Holdings Inc., Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank AG, and Credit Suisse Group AG. For a time after the SEC case, Goldman refused to do business with him on compliance grounds, but gave in as rivals who benefited from having his needs met. The full picture of its holdings is still emerging, and it’s not clear which positions derailed or what hedges are part of the reason that Hwang has never filed a 13F report on its holdings that any investment manager who is more than $ 100 million Holds US dollars in US stocks must be completed at the end of each quarter. That’s because he has apparently structured his trades using total return swaps and has essentially put the positions on banks’ balance sheets. Swaps also allow investors to add great leverage to a portfolio. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, for example, are the largest owners of GSX Techedu, an online Chinese tutoring company that short sellers repeatedly target. Banks can own stocks for a variety of reasons, including hedging swap commitments from doing business with their customers. “Unfortunate Investors” Goldman added 54% to its position in January, according to regulatory filings. Overall, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the submitted documents, banks said they hold at least 68% of the outstanding shares of GSX. The banks owned at least 40% of IQIYI Inc, a Chinese video entertainment company, and 29% of ViacomCBS – all that Archegos had bet on: “I’m sure there are a number of really unfortunate investors out there who have bought these names in in the past few weeks, ”said Doug Cifu, CEO of electronic trading company Virtu Financial Inc., in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday. He predicted that regulators will examine whether “a family office should ensure more transparency and disclosure”. With no need to market his fund to outside investors, Hwang’s strategies and performance were kept secret from the outside world. Even as his fortune swelled, the 50-year-old remained unremarkable. Although he had once worked for Robertson’s Tiger Management, he was not known on Wall Street or in New York social circles. Wang is a trustee of Fuller Theology Seminary and a co-founder of the Grace and Mercy Foundation, whose mission is to serve the poor and the oppressed. The foundation had assets of nearly $ 500 million at the end of 2018. “It’s not just about the money, you know,” he said in a rare 2018 interview with an executive at the Fuller Institute, in which he talked about his calling as an investor and his Christian faith. “It’s about the long term, and God certainly has a long-term perspective.” His extraordinary stroke of luck turned early last week when ViacomCBS Inc. announced a second offering of its shares. The stock price fell 9% the next day. The value of other securities believed to be in Archegos’ portfolio based on positions traded in block trading followed. By Thursday’s close of trading, the portfolio’s value fell 27% – more than enough to wipe out an investor’s equity that market participants estimate has been leveraged six to eight times. It also hurt some banks that served Hwang. Nomura and Credit Suisse warned of “significant” losses after the sell-off, and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. has reported a potential loss of $ 300 million to Novogratz. “The psychology of all these levers without risk management is almost nihilism.” (Updates to the latest bank for detailed information in the penultimate paragraph.) For more articles like this, visit bloomberg.com. Subscribe us now to stay ahead of your trusted source of business news. © 2021 Bloomberg LP