TradecoHoldco

Killing it like a hooker in Hong Kong

Fund info: Och-Ziff Asia

General

Och-Ziff (NYSE:OZM) is a traded hedge fund initially seeded by the heirs to the Ziff publishing fortune and founded by Dan Och, a protege of Robert Rubin and alum of the Goldman Sachs risk arbitrage desk. Och-Ziff Asia has been around for a while, primarily trading liquid instruments and equities in Hong Kong, before they expanded their distressed business in early 2008. It was a disastrous move, and the the Asia Master Fund was down 31% in 2008. They ended up firing the entire distressed and private equity and credit section, and hiring real estate guys.

OZ has offices in Beijing, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangalore. It hired real estate guys for HK,  Singapore, China and India.

Deals

China Healthcare Holdings (HKSE:673):  A provider of healthcare services in China. OZM only owns 2% of the convertible shares according to news. Have to investigate further.

Fisherman’s Wharf: Stanley Ho promoted casino in Macau. Greenfield project. ML arranged a USD400mm private convertible in 2006. Looks like the CB value has crashed. Chow is offering 50 cents on the dollar or less to buyback the debt. When is this thing going to IPO given that the Macau gaming market has generally crashed? TPG was also in there…

People

Zoltan Varga: partner, head of Asia-Pacific. based in HK

Punit Patel: HK, Analyst, Ex JPM, Ex NYU Stern. Capital structure arb

Stephen Yuen: HK, Analyst, Ex GS, Wesleyan University

Manoj Jain: HK, MD, Ex-CS, Cambridge

Raaj Shah: former partner, former co-head Asia Pacific, head of credit and distressed, based in HK, former head of European credit trading

Mary Schroeder: former distressed debt head, based in HK,  joined the firm at the beginning of 2008 from Asian Debt Management.  Got axed by the end of the year. Poor woman, talk about a bad move.

Oliver Wimmer: former employee, formerly of Lehman Brothers.

Deep Mishra: Indian real estate. fired at end of 2008

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Josh Katzin: Analyst, HK, ex Mckinsey, Fenway Partners, HBS

Kirti Ram Hariharan: Analyst in Bangalore office, National Law School of India University, Partner at Amarchand Mangaldas

Zain Fancy: new hire, former head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate Asia Pacific. Zain joined Morgan Stanley in 1996. Prior to joining MSRE in 1998, he worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department. Zain has spent five years in the U.S. business and the remainder in Asia. Zain received a BS from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Roy Kwok: new hire from MS

Annan Madduri: new hire from MS

Bharat Khanna: new hire from MS

Entities

April 1, 2009 Posted by | China, Hedge Fund, Hong Kong | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fund info: Myo Capital

I’ve previously posted on these guys in relation to ADM, but here is an update.

General

Myo Capital was founded in 2007 by ex-ADM Justin Ferrier. They started out with USD50mm from an institutional seed investor and aimed to scale up to USD500mm. Unfortunately they may have been a bit early, and from the looks of the website, they might be dead already. Prime broker was Merrill, and ML Asia was selling a lot of crappy paper, so if these guys were enticed into buying any of that stuff… Very little information on these guys. With USD50mm, you would be buying pieces of debt with no hope of control of a company. USD1mm -USD5mm size, and you would think very carefully about putting USD5mm in one deal. They were still alive as of October 2008, so maybe they didn’t invest in anything since they began.

Update: They got funded by Man Group, according to Bloomberg.

Focused on distressed debt, special sits and event driven.

Deals

?????

People

Justin Ferrier
Myo Capital
Justin has 18 years experience in investment management, corporate finance and management consulting, including 8 years with ADM Capital where he was a director and member of the investment committee; 8 years in corporate finance advisory with the S.G. Warburg group in Australia and Indonesia, and Peregrine Capital in Hong Kong; and 2 years with Andersen Consulting as a management consultant. Justin has an MBA from Monash University, a graduate diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia and a BSc from the University of South Australia. He is also an associate CPA (Australia) and a fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia.

Geoff Lee
Prior to setting up Myo Capital in 2007, Geoff was a Director and Head of Asian Investments at HSBC Alternative Proprietary Investments Limited in HK, whose mandate is to invest in the alternative assets space globally. He was responsible for managing the Asian investment team and portfolio, and developing and implementing the fund’s Asian investment strategy. From 2004 to 2006, Geoff was a Director at CLSA Capital Partners’ Mezzanine Fund in HK with primary responsibility for North Asia. Geoff has 8 years experience in corporate finance with HSBC Investment Bank and with Peregrine Capital in HK where he worked on a wide range of M&A and international capital raising assignments across the Asia-Pacific region.

Julius Jurianto

Seems to have quit to join Rajasa and Partners law firm in Indonesia.

Of Counsel

We are now retaining Julius Jurianto as our of counsel. When necessary, Julius will assist us in rendering services in the areas of banking, finance, merger and acquisition, and investment.

Julius previously worked with a British private equity firm as part of a small team covering investment portfolio in South East Asia. He was mainly responsible for the workouts and recoveries of troubled investments and provided valuation recommendations and transaction supports for divestments of the portfolio. He started his career with KPMG and subsequently practiced law for several years in Jakarta, during which time he was mostly involved in project finance, privatization, debt restructuring, and litigious proceedings at the bankruptcy court.

Julius read law at the University of Indonesia and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, and he also obtained a degree in accountancy from Atma Jaya University and a master degree from Durham Business School in the UK. He is admitted to practice law in Indonesia, a member of the Indonesian Bar Association, and also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Entities

Myo Capital Fund Limited

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Hedge Fund, Hong Kong | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fund Info: Abax Global Capital

Oh how the stars of yesteryear have fallen so swiftly to the Earth. Abax was THE hedge fund launch of 2007. Everyone and their mom wanted in on these guys… who were they?

Let’s put together the story:

Abax launched in early 2007 with USD300mm in capital, most of it chipped in by Morgan Stanley. MS gave them a hunk of money in return for 20% of the firm’s equity. The plan was to do Special Situations, a fancy name for putting hedge fund money in private equity deals and waiting to get it out.

They did a bunch of small private equity deals in China, and some in South East Asia. Most of these involved Abax putting USD20-30mm in the form of a private convertible which would then be converted to equity once the investee IPO-ed. Unfortunately CBs tend to be really unattractive if you just have to carry them as bonds, they are unsecured, have small coupons, and have tenors between 5-7 years. The stocks they are based on are usually illiquid small caps, so a lot of the more interesting hedging can’t be carried out.

Looking at the deal list, these guys basically bought into a bunch of small caps, with the idea that each one would use the cash to finish an expansion project or for growth capital, and then IPO. They were very thematic, making multiple bets on China water industry, China gas industry, commodities and China consumer. They were not afraid to touch the dodgiest of the dodge, and ended up with one of the crappiest books I’ve ever seen. There was zero downside protection for the investor. None of the companies had assets that could be seized to make investors whole if the promoters turned out to be cads.

Some of the deals they did:

China Natural Gas (OTC:CHNG) :- A Chinese LNG and CNG infrastructure company. Invested USD40mm, 5% coupon with warrants struck at USD7.3. As of March 2009, stock is trading at USD2.50. The intent with this one was to provide capital for CHNG to complete their LNG facility, potentially quadrupling their earnings, and realize the warrants when they went public on NYSE or one of the other big boards.

Reuters

China Water Industry (HKSE:1129) :- USD50mm CB in Aug 2007. Conversion struck at HKD1.42, shares now trading (March 2009) at HKD0.126. This was a Chinese water treatment and sewage company.

PRNewswire

United Fiber Systems (SP:UFS) :- The deal that would not die. This thing has been passed around South East Asia like a Hong Kong hooker in heat. You have an potentially incredibly lucrative pulp and paper mill, which no bank project finance group will touch with a stick because of environmental concerns. Abax puts in USD25mm, with a promise to secure an additional USD200mm to complete the mill. As far as I can tell, Stephanie Fried hit the nail on the head, when she said it was a form of money laundering. Basically Abax fronts an investment of American and European bank capital into the project, and gets paid out of the equity investment. Abax’s commitment was struck at SGS0.355 per share, while Mar09 prices are SGD0.02. That’s right 2 cents.

China Mobile Media Technology (OTC:CHMO) :- A mass marketer of digital knick knacks. Invested USD21mm in Jan08. Warrants struck as USD2.00/share, as of Mar09 price was USD0.013 per share. No interest first year and 9.5% interest in the year after. Looks like this was the crappiest deal they did. No hard assets to have recourse too..

Coastal Greenland (HK: 1124) :- Chinese real estate developer.  USD45mm 8% notes with warrants due 2010. Invested Dec 2007, when share price was HKD1.50.  Mar09 share price HKD0.27. They owned 17% + of this company and started to sell off in Oct08. Must have started liquidating stake.

SinoEnergy Corp (OTC:SNEN) :- Another CNG play. USD20mm with average 6% coupon. Mar09 USD1.13.  Sept07 deal announce, strike at USD3.17.

Bio-Treat Technology (SP:BIOT) :- Another China water play. Fortunately for Abax, Bio-treat reneged on their borrowing agreement and never drew down the bulk of the cash. Whew what a relief. Case is in court now, with Abax suing to retrieve SGD5mm while if the investment had gone through they might have lost SGD100mm. Sigh. Strike was 0.76 on the deal, Mar09 price is, drum roll please… SGD0.03.

Who is Abax?

Chris Hsu:     He was forced out in Nov 2008. Excerpt from Top Trader’s Under 30.

Age: 27

After graduating early from Stanford with a degree in engineering, this Taiwan native got a job at Aristeia Capital in New York, followed by gigs at JMB Capital in Los Angeles and Chicago-based Citadel. Working out of Citadel’s Hong Kong office, Hsu led the firm’s Asian special-situations group. Now one year into his $300 million launch, Abax Global Capital, Hsu is invading China with the zeal of a thirteenth-century Mongol.

Donald Yang: formerly managing director and head of Hong Kong and Greater China debt capital markets atMerrill Lynch

Frank Qian: formerly a trader and risk manager in Asia, Europe and the U.S. at Citadel Group.

Andy Shpiz: Managing Director of Abax Global Capital. Formerly of Mellon HBV/Fursa Alternative Special Situations. Looks like a typical Filth-er, came out to HK, loved it, rode the curve up during the China IPO boom. Doesn’t look that well qualified, I mean IB at Allen & Co, is like Equities in Dallas isn’t it. Excerpt from Mellon bio below:

Andrew G. Shpiz will lead the Asian research effort in Hong Kong to support Asian deals in the firm’s global multi-strategy discipline and to identify further event driven opportunities throughout Asia. Before joining the company in 2001, Mr. Shpiz was a Vice President of Allen & Company Incorporated (“Allen”). Mr. Shpiz was employed by Allen since 1995 and worked in investment banking, where he was responsible for advising corporate clients and investing the firm’s capital in new businesses. Prior to working in investment banking, Mr. Shpiz researched and monitored investments for several internal special situation investment and risk arbitrage funds. Prior to joining Allen, Mr. Shpiz worked for Fidelity Investments for three years in various sales and trading positions. Mr. Shpiz received a Masters in Business Administration from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1996 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Colby College in 1991.

Benjamin Happ: Amherst ’98 Psych who’s a very reasonable qualified Investment Mgmt guy. Expertise is capital raising. Looks like speaks Chinese from the backgrounder.

Danny Yong Ming Chong, Chief Investment Officer of Abax: Singaporean and old SJI boy (go go St. Joe)

Lee Ka Shao managed both macro positioning and the South Asia special situations portfolio. Now at Cavenagh Capital

Bonita Choi : Low level analyst and investor relations. What is a religious studies major from Toronto doing in a hedge fund? A) She must be cute B) she speaks Chinese. Combi of one and two would be perfect for handling testy older Chinese gentlemen watching their money evaporate.

Known Abax Related Entities
Abax Arhat Fund
Abax Claremont Ltd
Abax Global Capital
Abax Global Opportunities Fund
Abax Lotus Ltd
Abax Upland Fund LLC

March 20, 2009 Posted by | China, Hedge Fund, Hong Kong | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

ADM Capital: What happened last year?

Asia Debt Management, one of the oldest Asian distressed debt funds, seems to have had a rather bad year last year. From what I can tell, the fund missed its 15% hurdle, and had a few senior people leave.  It seems like the top dogs stayed on, but the thirty somethings, the core of the fund business, seem to have evaporated.

Justin Ferrier ends up in Myo capital, Mary Schroeder joins Och Ziff. That leaves you with the just the 4 principals of the fund. I’m not sure which deals blew up on them, but they did some darn innovative work along the way, one of the first Indian restructurings led by a foreign party, and all sizes of stuff all over South East Asia.

Mary Schroeder

Mary Schroeder is a corporate recovery consultant with substantial experience implementing debt restructuring plans and performing forensic accounting of financially distressed companies in the U.S. and in Hong Kong. Prior to joining ADM, Mary worked for KPMG’s Corporate Turnaround Department for five years, where she was involved in the refinancing of a PRC oil refinery, liquidation of an U.S. auto parts manufacturer, and the asset sales program of a Hong Kong construction company. Prior to joining this group, she worked in KPMG’s Assurance Services Department as an auditor. Mary is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she obtained double degrees in Business Administration and Chinese Studies.

Mr Christopher Botsford,

Co-founder and CEO, ADM Capital
Christopher Botsford is a co-founder of ADM Capital, CEO of ADM Capital and a member of ADM Capital’s Investment Committee. Before establishing ADM Capital, Chris ran the Asia-Pacific regional debt and derivatives operation for Republic National Bank of New York. In 1995, he was a founding board member of the Asian arm of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the self-governing body for the derivatives industry. Chris holds an MA and BA from Cambridge University.

Hong Kong-based hedge fund firm Myo Capital is gearing up to launch an Asian-focused fund that will focus on undervalued credit strategies.

The Myo Capital Master Fund is set to debut on April 1 with $50 million in assets under management, according to Asian Investor.  The new Asian-focused (ex-Japan) vehicle will have four sub-strategies including high-yield credit, distressed, special situations and event driven.

The new fund is being headed up by Justin Ferrier, a former director at hedge fund shop ADM Capital.

“For example, if we are looking at a distressed credit, our Thai or Indonesian analyst will provide local intelligence, while Alfred, our trader, provides the market pricing and can source the credit from a large number of participants,” Ferrier told Asian Investor.

Other principals in the fund include Geoff Lee, who previously worked with Ferrier at Peregrine Capital and will run the special situations portfolio for the new fund; and Alfred Miu, formerly with UBS’s global credit strategies group, who will run the high-yield portion of the fund. In all, there will be 12 members of the team.

The fund is targeting returns of 13-15% net, with a volatility of 7% and a Sharpe ratio of 1.5-2. To start, it will not use leverage, but add use up to 150% as time goes on. The fund has a target close of $500 million.

Merrill Lynch will serve as prime broker for the new Myo fund; Maples and Calder and Simmons & Simmons will serve as lawyers; and HSBC will be the administrator.

April 11, 2008 Posted by | Hedge Fund | , , , , | 2 Comments

Misnomers: Hedge Fund and Private Equity

The terms hedge fund and private equity are probably the most mistakenly used in the finance vocabulary today. The industry has grown much faster than the public’s capacity to understand it, and not a day goes by without a newspaper columnist, layperson or well-meaning friend makes remarks that make me cringe at the generalizations made of an enormously complex industry.

Private Equity: Traditional private equity was precisely that, all it meant was investing in the shares of non-publicly traded companies. It relied on fundamental equity analysis to identify companies which were not large enough to be listed, but had great prospects. However, over time, a number of strategies began to emerge as the market outperformers during some cycles. These included

LBOs: Where a minimal amount of equity is used to take an inefficient public company private, using a large amount of debt. The idea is really that the public company has a baseline of cash flow even when it is inefficient, and this can support the debt. Any improvement in the company’s prospects is upside to the equity, the PE sponsor.

VC: Venture capital, another mangled term, means one of two things. The first, which is commonly associated with the VC term is really funding of early and middle stage technology companies. Exits are usually based on strategic sales or IPOs and these firms take on very little debt, as the tech companies usually do not have cash flows to support it. The lesser known use of VC, is really traditional seed funding of businesses, such starting up a hotel, a small manufacturing company, etc. But most people tend to ignore this aspect of VC, even though it is the far larger market for funding.

Hedge Funds: The traditional use of the hedge fund term would probably apply to strategies which have been around as long as a stock market existed. The initial, essential idea was that a money manager could short one security, while being long another, and this would help him make money regardless of where the market ended up going. In contrast a long only manager is a slave to the vagaries of the market. Even if you made a good bet, a market downturn would put you in the red. Over time of course, many strategies sprang up around this concept of long/short:

Risk Arbitrage: Legalized insider trading. Wait till a merger is announced. The price of the target moves close to offer price, the price of the buyer moves lower due to dilution concerns. The HF will start calling up his buddies in banking, accounting, law firms, brokerage desks to see whether the merger has a good chance of happening. After getting all the market rumors, from whether the shareholders of both firms are keen to whether the bankers are able to fund the deal, the HF decided whether or not the acquisition will go through. If so buy target, short buyer. If not, the converse.

Convertible Arbitrage: One of the most successful strategies, and has produced some of the big names of our times including Och-Ziff, Fortress and Citadel. A convertible is essentially a bond which can be converted to equity at a certain stock price. You’re protected on the down side by the bond like features, and get the equity upside if things go well. There are a number of mathematical trading strategies to realize profits over short periods of time due to the volatility of the stock. Plus margin leverage at up to 10:1 with some brokers.

Distressed Debt: Buy up the debt of a company in distress or unable to pay its loans. Pay40 cents on the dollar. Short the stock at the same time if you think company is heading into bankruptcy. Used the legalized insider trading and market rumor system to make short term profits over the bankruptcy process. Alternatively, propose a restructuring plan which rewards you with 80,90,100 cents on the dollar while the shareholders get wiped out. This strategy has been inconsistent over time. Similar to risk arbitrage. Just as you need a bull market for mergers to occur, you need a bear market for distressed.

Credit Trading:  Perhaps the most technical off all the HF strategies. It’s all about exploiting different values of fixed income instruments based on risk perceptions, maturity, spread, duration and currency. Complicated, and usually depends on leverage from prime brokers to amplify small price differences. Think Long Term Capital Management.

Quantitative Trading: Engineer builds computers. Puts in all the data in the world. Computer crunches historical numbers, tell Engineer what to buy and sell. Essentially  something like “Buy gold when Japan yen bonds yield x”. Requires liquid markets, lots of fast computerized trading. This strategy ran into trouble recently because all the Engineers read the same books and went to the same schools.

Commodity Trading: What started out as a system for mid western farmers to lock in profits by agreeing to sell their crop three months in advance is now a multi billion dollar HF industry. Guys trade options and forwards as well as physicals (I will ship 100m barrels of oil to you in Hamburg by next week). Names like Glencore, Ospraie, Olam, Philipps Brothers, Red Kite Metals

Welcome to a new world

And that’s just the beginning. What most laypeople fail to understand when they lump hedge funds together is the world of difference between what the various strategies do and who these people are.

An Australian Glencore trader who goes to a coal mine in Newcastle, buys 1m tonnes of coal, and then ships it to China where a power plant in Shenzhen would be forced to shutdown and create a blackout if it didn’t get coal on time.

is very different from

An equity long/short guy who sits at a Bloomberg terminal in a dingy building in Hong Kong, listening to endless company calls for these small mainland Chinese companies, buying stock in them while being short the market.

The skill sets, the risk-return, the value to society, the actual people, personalities, are all completely different.  The difficulties of the job, the people they communicate with, whether they build a business or just do some trades.

So hedge funds as a whole are never going to go away, and are never going to implode. Individual funds, certain strategies, at certain times, will perform badly. Like in any other industry, there will be some instances of fraud. But the only consistent thing about the industry is allowing a small number of people to play with large amounts of money and get paid like stars.

April 3, 2008 Posted by | Hedge Fund, Private Equity | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment