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The Morning Brief: Renaissance Man Facing Lawsuit; Spitzer's Hedge Fund Supporter

Three former domestic workers are suing Robert Mercer, co-chief executive of East Setauket-based Renaissance Technologies, accusing him of stiffing them of overtime pay and illegally deducting their wages, Newsday reports.

Alba Aguilar, Luis E. Castro Alzate and Carmen Rodriguez say they worked at Mercer's home in Head of the Harbor, on Long Island. They claim they were regularly not paid for 10 to 15 hours of overtime and that Mercer deducted money from a semiannual bonus as punishment for infractions like failing to properly close doors, level pictures, change razor blades in the shaver and replace toiletries if there was less than a third of a bottle remaining.

Mercer's attorney, Jeffrey Naness told Newsday: "We don't think this is a meritorious claim. There is no doubt that the workers here were compensated well above the median workers' wage for the domestic work they were doing. They got full medical [benefits] as well as a pension." The three domestics reportedly earned about $45,000 a year.


It looks like Eliot Spitzer has one supporter in the hedge fund community. Boykin Curry, managing director of Eagle Capital Management, sent an e-mail to his colleagues trying to drum up support for Spitzer’s bid to become New York City comptroller despite Spitzer’s earlier crusade against some hedge funds when he was governor, according to the New York Post.

“Even the arrogance and bullying that some disliked in a governor would serve us well in a comptroller,” Curry reportedly wrote. He earlier helped raise money for Spitzer when he was governor as well as for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, State Sen. Malcolm Smith ( who is currently facing federal corruption charges) and former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who has been accused of misusing campaign money for personal use, such as lawyers. He is currently running for City Council.

D.E. Shaw this week filed for something called the D. E. Shaw Value All Country Alpha Extension Fund. However, it is not a new hedge fund. Rather, it is part of the firm’s Benchmark Relative Program, which includes about $8 billion in long-only or 130/30 funds. Most of them are marketed to pension funds, and are either co-mingled funds or, in the case of the new fund, for a single pension fund, according to a knowledgeable source.


Jeffrey Smith’s New York-based activist hedge fund Starboard Value, which owns about 14.6 percent of the shares of Office Depot, filed definitive proxy materials with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is nominating four individuals to the board of the office products retailer, including Smith, Cynthia Jamison, Robert Nardelli and Joseph Vassalluzzo.


Score this one for Jim Chanos. One week after the short-selling specialist laid out his case for going against the stock of Caterpillar, the industrial equipment maker reported second-quarter earnings and sales that came in well below expectations. The company also trimmed its full-year forecast. As a result, the stock Wednesday dropped about 2.5 percent, to close at $83.44.


So much for several years of mediocre performance. Nearly nine of 10 (88 percent) of 185 institutional investors surveyed by Credit Suisse said they plan to make additional allocations to hedge funds during the second half of this year. The three most popular strategies by net demand (percentage increasing allocation – percentage decreasing allocation) were long/short equity- fundamental, event driven and global macro.

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