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The Morning Brief: Renaissance Co-CEO Mercer's Iowa Connection

Renaissance Technologies co-chief executive Robert Mercer is all fired up over the Iowa senate primaries. Mercer has donated $200,000 to American Heartland PAC, which has spent $246,000 in the Republican primary race backing Joni Ernst—a member of the Iowa Senate and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard--in the June 3 primary, according to the globegazette.com, citing a filing with the Federal Election Commission. According to the report, the PAC is trying to counter candidates such as Mark Jacobs, who is described as a multimillionaire, in local television ads. Others vying for the Republican nomination include former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, college professor Sam Clovis and sales professional Scott Schaben, says the Iowa newspaper. Mercer, who has also reportedly donated directly to Ernst's campaign, is well known for backing conservative candidates and causes in the past. "Joni Ernst has relied on out-of-state special interests to attack Mark Jacobs," Brian Dumas, Jacobs' campaign manager, told the globegazette. "Voters should ask themselves, before they vote, will Joni Ernst represent them or a New York billionaire who's willing to spend $200,000 to attack Mark Jacobs and support Joni Ernst. Something doesn't smell right." A proposal aimed at cracking down on a tax avoidance strategy that is widely used by U.K. hedge funds and other investment partnerships could raise as much as $20 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by H.M. Revenue & Customs, the U.K.'s tax authority. The study finds that some partnerships classify certain employees as partners even though they have not contributed capital, have fixed salaries and take no substantive role in the running of the business, the Financial Times reports. The practice allows the employer and employee to avoid making certain payments and allows them to defer income tax.

London-based Toscafund has taken a $50.5 million stake in Hoist Finance, a Swedish debt purchaser and collector, according to the Financial Times. This gives Toscafund a total stake of 10 percent.  

Boston-based hedge fund Adage Capital Partners has seemingly created a sort of apparel hedge. It disclosed on Friday it owns roughly 1.87 million shares of Vince Holding Corp., a high-end apparel brand, or a little more than 5 percent of the total outstanding. It held more than 1.32 million shares at the end of the first quarter. It also disclosed Friday a 3.7 million share or so stake—or a bit over 5 percent--in Burlington Stores, the off-price retailer known for bargain prices on branded items. It held a little more than 2.7 million shares at the end of the first quarter. Both investments are passive.

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