Daily Agenda: SAB Capital Rings in 2016 By Closing Its Doors

Icahn wins control of Pep Boys; PBOC exits repo market; 1Malaysia targets debt reduction.


David Paul Morris

From a slump in oil prices that shows nary a sign of letting up to the Federal Reserve finally hiking rates, there’s at least one trend that many investors would be happy to see go out with 2015. A slew of well-known asset management firms closed their doors this year in light of lackluster performance. This week SAB Capital Management became the latest hedge fund firm to return client money during what has been a difficult year for alternative managers. Founded by Scott Bommer, SAB Capital’s Overseas Fund declined by more than 10 percent in the year prior to September. Following the return of client funds, Bommer plans to focus on managing his own wealth, according to reports.

Icahn wins bidding war. Yesterday the board of Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack accepted a takeover bid of $18.50 per share by activist investor Carl Icahn after rival Bridgestone Corp. declined to make a counter-offer. Icahn Enterprises, the legendary investor’s acquisition vehicle, will bear the costs of the $39 million termination fee to the Japanese tire maker as part of the transaction.

Malaysian sovereign wealth fund to pare debt levels. Today Prime Minister Najib Razak announced 1Malaysia Development Bhd. is targeting a debt reduction of more than $9 billion as the sovereign wealth fund continues to sell assets. Although the fund suffered a liquidity crisis earlier this year, an official report by the auditor general found no signs of malfeasance.

PBOC cuts repo lines. For the first time in six months today, the People’s Bank of China withheld intervention in the form of reverse purchase agreements. The move signals increased confidence by the central bank in liquidity in financial markets as seven-day repo rates in Shanghai have fallen by a record 264 basis points for the year.

Venezuelan courts challenge opposition. The high court of Venezuela delayed the installment of several elected lawmakers who are part of the opposition supermajority elected earlier this month. Opposition leaders accuse the ruling socialist PSUV party of attempting to subvert the democratic process.

U.S. jobless claims spike. Weekly initial unemployment benefit data released today by the Department of Labor rose by 20,000 to 287,000 –the highest level of newly jobless workers since July. Significantly higher than consensus economists’ forecasts, the increase may in part be influenced by seasonal distortions.