The Morning Brief: SALT’s Star-Studded Lineup Includes Rich List Veterans

It’s that time of year, when luminaries like hedge fund heavyweight Kenneth Griffin, transgender rights advocate and former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, movie producer Ron Howard, ex-Greece prime minister George Papandreou and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg all speak at the same conference.

This, of course, is the eighth annual SALT Conference. SALT is the brainchild of Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of New York fund-of-funds firm SkyBridge Capital, and Victor Oviedo, a SkyBridge partner and head of business development.

The event, which regularly takes place at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, is still predominantly a hedge fund conference. However, it is also heavily populated with a diverse group of leaders in a wide variety of other professions. The event also features a headliner music act, this year the Killers.

Scaramucci likes to call the eclectic star-studded lineup “alternative thinking.”

“We’re trying to bring verticals — interesting people — in politics, sports” and other fields, he said in an interview a week before the event. “We want interesting personalities who are inspiring and aspirational and for people to learn something they didn’t know before they came.”

Most of the speakers are or were the absolute leaders in their respective fields, such as just-retired Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, billionaire and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, and former Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.


And the same holds for the hedge fund managers. Scaramucci gets the kinds of managers who can also be found at the top of Alpha’s Rich List, the ultimate confirmation of their stature.

In previous years Rich List regulars such as Appaloosa Management’s David Tepper and Paulson & Co.’s John Paulson have spoken at the conference. This year alone seven speakers at SALT have appeared on Alpha’s top 25 ranking of the world’s highest-earning hedge fund managers at some time during the Rich List’s 15-year history.

The most distinguished of the bunch is Citadel’s Griffin, a keynote speaker on Wednesday who shares the Rich List’s top spot this year with Renaissance Technologies’ James Simons. Each earned $1.7 billion last year.

Griffin has also qualified for the ranking in 14 of its 15 years of existence, earning more than $10 billion during this time.

The other five speakers who have appeared on the Rich List in the past include New York–based Omega Advisors’ Leon Cooperman, who speaks on a panel on Wednesday. He has qualified for the top 25 ranking five different years. However, losses in Cooperman’s hedge fund the past two years have kept him off the ranking since the survey of 2013 earnings.

Michael Hintze of London-based CQS has qualified for the ranking three times — in 2009, 2010 and 2012. He also topped the Rich List Second Team in 2015.

Short-selling specialist James Chanos of New York–based Kynikos Associates is another scheduled SALT speaker who has been on the Rich List in the past. He most recently qualified in 2011, when he earned $200 million. He also made $225 million in 2008, one of the higher-earning hedge fund managers during the financial crisis.

Graham Capital Management’s Kenneth Tropin has also qualified for the Rich List twice, in 2003 and 2008. In addition, the Rowayton, Connecticut, CTA manager, who operates both computer-driven and discretionary funds, has qualified for the Rich List Second Team in each of the past two years.

Boaz Weinstein of New York–based Saba Capital Management also made the Rich List once. His appearance took place in 2011, when he earned $100 million. However, that may have been a jinx for him, since his Saba Capital Offshore Fund lost money in each of the three subsequent years.

John Burbank III of San Francisco–based Passport Capital also qualified for the Rich List once, in 2007, when he earned $370 million, one of a number of hedge fund managers cashing in from heavily shorting subprime mortgage pools and riskier, heavily leveraged collateralized debt obligations.

Two other SALT speakers have managed to qualify only for the Second Team. They include Canyon Capital Advisors’ Joshua Friedman and Sachem Head Capital Management’s Scott Ferguson, who makes his debut this year.

However, given Ferguson’s recent success and his firm’s growing size, we may find him on the top 25 list pretty soon.