Dixon Boardman, hedge fund pioneer and head of Optima Fund Management, is the sort of Wall Street financier who seems straight out of a Tom Wolfe novel. Besides being wealthy, he is married to a former princess, Arianna von Hohenlohe (now Arianna Boardman).
So it is entirely fitting that the novelist himself will be the keynote speaker at dinner at Optima’s investor hedge fund conference next month in New York. Other speakers at the conference include Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn, two other larger-than-life figures one could imagine being woven into one of Wolfe’s novels.
Wolfe is now working on a book about immigration, but Boardman says that he had asked his friend – and long-time hedge fund investor – to bring Sherman McCoy, the bond-trading central character of The Bonfire of the Vanities, published in 1987, up to date.
Boardman said: “I’ve asked him to tell what Sherman would be like today if he was in hedge funds.”
It was a bad weekend for some former directors of Gizmondo Europe.
Stefan Eriksson, a founder of the handheld games company that went into liquidation in February, was arrested in Los Angeles on Saturday and held without bail.
According to reports in the Los Angeles Times, police had concluded that several cars in Eriksson’s collection of exotic vehicles were owned by UK financial institutions.
The cars included a rare $1m Ferrari Enzo, which crashed on a Malibu highway in February, another Ferrari and a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren – valued at more than $400,000.
The police said Eriksson, who served prison time in Sweden in the 1990s for counterfeiting, had imported the cars to the US but let leasing payments on them lapse.
Police are also continuing to investigate whether Eriksson – who was over the legal alcohol limit at the time – was driving the Enzo in February’s crash.
At the same time, it emerged that Carl Freer, Gizmondo’s co-founder and former managing director, is facing a personal lawsuit for £517,000 from Manches, the company’s UK law firm.
Manches is claiming for unpaid fees for litigation and advice over several years. A claim of a similar size has been issued against Gizmondo’s parent company, Tiger Telematics, which trades on Nasdaq.
Manches is one of a long line of suppliers and advisers left unpaid after Gizmondo went into liquidation with losses of nearly £140m.
Other creditors include Britain’s HM Revenue and Customs, which is owed about £20m, and MTV Europe.
They have initiated a forensic investigation led by liquidators Begbies Traynor into Gizmondo’s accounts.
Like old times?
Democrats gathered at the posh Mandarin Hotel in New York last night saw something truly rare: an event attended by former president Bill Clinton and Al Gore, his vice- president.
Gore and Clinton appear to have had a complicated relationship, which came into full view during the 2000 campaign. Since then Gore has largely dropped out of the political scene and has instead devoted himself to a few causes and some business ventures.
But after last night’s event – a dinner to honour Maureen White, who was the Democratic National Committee’s finance chief for five years – it was tempting to wonder if Gore would become more active in the party.
With President George W. Bush lagging in the polls and mid-term elections looming, the Democrat heavyweights should have plenty to talk about. The others who gathered included Howard Dean, the party chairman, and Charlie Rangel, the New York congressman.
Investors were once happy to collect interest on loans to Iceland and its companies, profiting by borrowing more cheaply elsewhere.
So much so that some have likened the whole country to a hedge fund – plunging neck-deep into steaming debt, and buying up assets at home and abroad.
Cold feet, however, are now the norm after a couple of months of worry that Iceland is over-extended. As the currency has tumbled and interest rates surged, institutions including Kaupthing, the country’s biggest bank, have tried to talk down the potential for a severe crisis.
This kind of volatile situation is manna from heaven for “real” hedge funds, whose activities do not always get a warm welcome in Europe.
But one beneficiary of an Icelandic meltdown turns out to be closer to home. It seems the Norwegian government’s pension fund had a big short position in the debt of Kaupthing and another big Icelandic bank, meaning it stands to gain from credit problems across the water in Iceland.
The fund carefully avoids investing in, for example, weapons makers. Perhaps it should be more careful about other kinds of holdings that could create a diplomatic incident.
Len Lauer, Sprint Nextel’s chief operating officer, has his hands full these days. Not only is he integrating the Sprint and Nextel networks and choosing the next-generation 4G technology, but he also has to worry about disruptive issues such as Mobile TV, music downloads and the like.
With all this going on, he is frequently asked how everything is going. So he has crafted an amusing answer that says it all.
“I sleep like a baby at night: I wake up screaming every few hours.”
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