Ken Griffin’s Marriage: Over and Out
The past year has been tough on hedge fund marriages. In the U.S., Citadel founder Ken Griffin recently filed for divorce from Anne Dias Griffin, and Appaloosa Management founder David Tepper is rumored to be separated from his spouse, Marlene. Meanwhile, activist investor Chris Hohn and Jamie Cooper-Hohn are embroiled in what has been described as London’s biggest-ever divorce case. When hedge fund billionaires and their partners split, special problems arise: Who gets the art collection, and how to divvy up the politicians? In July, Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner announced the Women for Rauner coalition. One key member is Dias Griffin. Awkwardly, Ken Griffin is Rauner’s top donor, having contributed more than $3.5 million to the businessman’s campaign. Griffin, 45, also let Rauner use his private jet — another asset that could be up for grabs if his ex can overturn their prenuptial agreement. Dias Griffin alleges that she was pressured into signing this document, which would leave her with only about 1 percent of her former husband’s estimated $5.6 billion net worth, right before their 2003 wedding at France’s Palace of Versailles. In the hedge fund world, the grander the wedding, the bigger the divorce. — Imogen Rose-Smith
Tony Fung Is a Betting Man
It takes more than seven hours to fly from southern China to Cairns, a town in the tropical far northeast of Australia. But distance hasn’t prevented Hong Kong billionaire property developer Tony Fung from betting big on Cairns as the next great tourist destination for Chinese gamblers. Fung recently won approval from Australian competition authorities to develop a $7.9 billion resort — featuring 7,500 hotel rooms, an artificial lake, a golf course and a casino — in the north of the town, close to the Great Barrier Reef. The Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan have already seen casino resorts spring up as developers locked out of the lucrative but tightly licensed Macau casino industry look for fresh pastures. Explaining the appeal of Cairns but ignoring the much bigger city of Darwin to its northwest, Fung’s son Justin told reporters last month: “This is the closest Western city to China.”
The next Macau, it seems, will carry an Australian twang. — Aaron Timms
Sir Win Bischoff Is Moonlighting
Can Sir Win Bischoff have it both ways? Next January, Bischoff, 73, will take over as chair of JPMorgan Chase’s main European holding division. Since May he’s headed the Financial Reporting Council, the U.K. and Irish independent corporate governance watchdog — a job he plans to keep. Bischoff took the FRC post after retiring as chair of Lloyds Bank, which is presently 25 percent owned by British taxpayers following its rescue during the financial crisis; in July the bank was fined £218 million ($370 million) over the Libor scandal. This double duty by the veteran banking executive, who was also previously chair and interim CEO of Citigroup, has raised questions of potential conflict of interest. The FRC has publicly stated that there’s no problem, given that Bischoff doesn’t sit on its conduct board, which hands down disciplinary decisions. JPMorgan has had its own share of multimillion-dollar fines lately, including those connected to Libor and sales of mortgage bonds. — Anne Szustek
Lei Jun Is Calling the Shots
Known in some quarters as the Chinese Steve Jobs, Lei Jun dresses the part by sporting the late Apple co-founder’s trademark jeans and black shirt. The founder and CEO of smartphone maker Xiaomi also aims to take on Apple and Samsung worldwide with an iPhone look-alike. “Our product really is better than the iPhone,” Lei claimed at the recent launch of the powerful Mi4 handset, whose $320 price tag is less than half that of the iPhone 5S. Although Beijing-based Xiaomi sells its phones at close to cost, it makes money by offering a wide range of mobile services. China’s No. 1 smartphone brand, the company held a 14 percent market share as of the second quarter, according to technology market research firm Canalys, versus 12 percent for second-place Samsung. Former programmer Lei, 45, pulled off this feat with blinding speed: He launched privately held Xiaomi in 2010, having previously served as CEO of Chinese antivirus firm Kingsoft, where he’s now chairman. — Allen T. Cheng
Tim Draper’s California Dreaming
Fancy living in the state of Silicon Valley? Venture capitalist Tim Draper does. Draper had an eventful summer. First, he got plenty of attention when it emerged that he was the bidder who purchased 30,000 Bitcoins from the U.S. Marshals Service. Then Draper, 56, hit the road to promote another passion — breaking up California. He insists that the most populous U.S. state would be better, and more efficiently, run if split into six: Central California, Jefferson, North California, Silicon Valley, South California and West California. Draper was hustling to raise enough signatures — about 800,000 valid ones are required — to put this proposal on the ballot for November’s state elections. Despite gathering more than 1 million names, he’s decided to wait until 2016. Critics allege that his plan would create communities of haves (at $63,288 today, Silicon Valley’s per capita personal income would be among the highest of any state) and have-nots (Jefferson’s $33,510 would put it among the lowest). So far, Draper has put $4.9 million of his own money into funding the proposal. — I. R.-S.
Xavier Niel: Allô, Amérique
Those in Xavier Niel’s inner circle say the onetime hacker, whose casual clothing style belies his status as France’s eighth-richest person, likes to keep to himself. But when doing business, the founder and majority shareholder of Iliad, his nation’s fourth-largest telecom, is anything but shy. Last month Niel, 47, launched a $15 billion bid for 56.6 percent of Bellevue, Washington–based T-Mobile US. This offer puts Iliad in the same weight class as Sprint, the U.S. carrier owned by Japan’s SoftBank and which is planning a $24 billion merger with T-Mobile. It’s also sparked Gallic pride: “Bravo @Xavier75, who aims to conquer T-Mobile in the US,” tweeted Arnaud Montebourg before he was shooed out as French Economy minister in President François Hollande’s August 27 cabinet reshuffle. Niel’s image has come a long way since the 1980s, when he was known for setting up sex chat services; former president Nicolas Sarkozy once called him the “peep-show guy.” — A.S.
Wang Jing Is the International Man of Mystery
As he pursues his arguably quixotic $50 billion plan to build a Nicaraguan rival to the Panama Canal, Chinese telecom magnate Wang Jing keeps fending off accusations that he’s Beijing’s man in Managua. Last year Wang’s Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. won an uncontested 50-year concession for the proposed 172-mile waterway. The project has strong support from a Chinese government seeking to grow its global influence — as does Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology, the wireless communications company that Wang chairs. In 2011, China Development Bank extended Beijing Xinwei 12 billion yuan ($1.92 billion) in credit for international expansion. Since Wang, 41, took charge in 2010, the company has received visits from President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese leaders. Beijing Xinwei can sell directly to the People’s Liberation Army; it also enjoys corporate tax breaks, thanks to its designation as a key supplier of software for statistical planning. Meanwhile, state-owned Xugong Group Construction Machinery Co. has agreed to buy as much as 3 percent of Wang’s Nicaraguan venture. — A. T. C.