This content is from: Portfolio

The Morning Brief: Hall Reportedly Shutting His Commodities Fund

Oil trading guru Andy Hall is closing down Astenbeck Capital Management, according to a Bloomberg report.

  • By Stephen Taub

Another high-profile hedge fund manager is shutting his fund. Oil trading guru Andy Hall is closing down Astenbeck Capital Management, which managed $1.4 billion at the end of 2016, according to Bloomberg. His flagship fund, Astenbeck Master Commodities Fund II was down nearly 30 percent at the end of June, the Bloomberg report said, citing a person with knowledge of the matter. In 2013 Hall was running closer to $2.8 billion in the fund and a total of $4.5 billion. Hall worked at British Petroleum from 1973 to 1979 and joined Phibro, a commodities trading firm and then a Salomon Brothers subsidiary, in 1982 as an oil trader. He eventually rose to president and in 1991 became chairman and chief executive. Travelers Group bought Salomon and Phibro in 1997 and then merged with Citigroup in 1998. Occidental Petroleum bought Phibro from Citigroup in 2009 after Hall battled the bank over a $100 million bonus he asserted he was entitled to, a sum equal to what he had earned in 2008 when the banking system nearly collapsed.

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Starboard Value cut its stake in Brink’s to 3 percent. In a regulatory filing the hedge fund firm said it sold its shares to rebalance its portfolio given the significant appreciation in the stock since it filed its initial 13D for its holding more than two years ago. Altogether, it sold about 30 percent of its total equity position. “Starboard intends to remain a large shareholder,” the firm said. It added that Starboard’s Peter Feld will remain on the board of directors. The activist started investing in the security company in early 2015. In early 2016 Brink’s announced an agreement with Starboard under which it named three new directors to its nine-member board, including Feld, Starboard’s research director. In addition, Brink’s chairman, president, and CEO Thomas Schievelbein announced his retirement. The stock has been a big winner for Starboard. It was up nearly 41 percent last year and another 88 percent this year.

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It looks like the rally in Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ stock has been short circuited — at least for now. Shares of the embattled drug company fell nearly 6 percent on Thursday to $15.45 and are now down about 13 percent from their 2017 high. The stock is still up more than 6 percent for the year, though. Valeant is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings on August 8. Perhaps investors are starting to get nervous about what exactly the company will disclose.

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The sagging shares of Buffalo Wild Wings apparently have hurt the overall portfolio of Marcato International, the activist hedge fund headed by Mick McGuire III. The fund lost 2.5 percent last month, cutting its gain for the year to 5 percent. Shares of the casual dining chain dropped more than 15 percent in July.

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