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The Morning Brief: Carl Icahn is Mystery Hertz Investor

It appears that Carl Icahn is the mystery investor whose purchases of Hertz Global Holdings inspired the car rental giant to institute a one-year poison pill. CNBC reported Friday that the activist investor bought 30 million to 40 million shares of Hertz, including stock and derivatives. Daniel Loeb’s Third Point has also been buying Hertz stock, according to reports last week, while Keith Meister’s Corvex Capital added to its position. Meister also reportedly has met with Hertz CEO Mark Frissora. The latest revelations received a lukewarm response; shares of Hertz fell less than 1 percent on Friday. However, last Tuesday the stock jumped 10 percent on news of the shareholder rights plan implementation.

Good news for rogue hedge fund managers. The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that George Canellos, co-director of its enforcement division, is leaving later this month after serving four and a half years in various roles. In making the announcement, the SEC credited Canellos for playing a key role in numerous structural and enforcement policy changes and oversaw significant investigations and enforcement actions related to the credit crisis and insider trading. However, when Canellos joined the SEC in July 2009 as director of the New York regional office, he made it clear that hedge funds were sharply focused within his cross-hairs. Sure enough, he played a major role in the actions taken against Raj Rajaratnam and more than 30 others associated with Rajaratnam’s New York firm Galleon Management for insider trading. He also played important roles in the SEC’s cases against hedge fund managers associated with SAC Capital.

The Credit Suisse Liquid Alternative Beta Index, which tries to reflect the performance of the hedge fund industry, rose 0.48 percent in December, bringing its gain for the full year to 7.35 percent. Managed futures were the best performer in December, while event driven was the strongest performing strategy in 2013, returning 10.88 percent.

Daniel Och’s multi-strategy fund, OZ Master Fund, gained 1.55 percent in December and finished the year up 13.90 percent. His OZ Europe Master Fund was up 0.65 percent in December and 12.41 percent for the year, while the OZ Asia Master Fund gained 1.63 percent in December and 13.64 percent for all of 2013. The funds are managed by Och’s New York–based firm, Och Ziff Capital Management Group. Och-Ziff also said it had $40.6 billion under management as of January 1, which includes $1.4 billion of performance gains and capital flows from December 2, 2013 through January 1, 2014.

Investment Bank Stifel Nicolaus raised its price target on Yahoo from $40 to $49, noting that its valuation of Yahoo’s various parts has increased. In fact, it tells clients in a report on Friday that reports of a delay in Alibaba’s IPO from the second quarter until 2015 would boost Yahoo since Alibaba’s valuation continues to increase. “In our new $49 target price, we are now incorporating a 50 percent probability that Yahoo’s second tranche of Alibaba shares are distributed to shareholders tax efficiently,” Stifel stresses, explaining the extra time provided by the IPO delay could give Yahoo more time to effect “a tax-free split-and-spin of the Alibaba stake.” This is good news for Daniel Loeb’s Third Point, which counts Yahoo as its largest holding as of the end of the third quarter.

Kenneth Griffin’s Citadel disclosed that it owns 5 percent of Colony Financial, a real estate investment and finance company. The investment is passive.

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