Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
The prominent investor Jim Rogers, who co-founded the legendary Quantum Fund with George Soros, has been talking about moving to Asia since last July. Only one problem, the author of the book “Investment Biker” can’t seem to complete one particular deal — the sale of his six-story New York townhouse on Riverside Drive, which overlooks the Hudson River on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He has had it on the market for $15 million since last July but still hasn’t found a buyer.
Rogers told the Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit he still intends to move to a Chinese-speaking city, most likely Singapore. His three-year-old daughter is already bilingual in Mandarin and Chinese and he is bullish on Chinese assets and commodities in general (he was author of the investor guide “Hot Commodities”). He is also very negative on the U.S. dollar.
Still, he needs to find a willing buyer for the house who will pay in those dollars — and the newly minted rich of the hedge fund world don’t seem to be helping. They all want to live in Greenwich, Connecticut, he said. Rogers, who is very bearish on the U.S. housing industry, can’t exactly blame the state of the Manhattan housing market — prices have still been rising despite the declines in many other parts of the country. “It is not cheap, it is an expensive property a bit off the beaten-track,” said Clare Brown from the home’s listing agent Leslie J. Garfield & Co., in explaining the lack of a sale. “If he dropped the price, people would come running.”
Perhaps it doesn’t help that Rogers says his house is in Harlem — it isn’t quite, and it does have a wine cellar, a paneled library, a greenhouse, gym with sauna, and a hot tub and steam bath overlooking the river. For a tour of the house see: http://www.inmanstories.com/movies/newplayer.cfm?name=ljgco_352riverside
Here’s some welcome news for media industry workers: Firing tons of workers and doing the slash-and-burn routine is not the preferred technique of the private-equity buyout, according to a veteran of the business.
Buyout targets are companies that can deliver some long-term growth, but not by “asset stripping, just firing people [and] selling off assets,” Thomas H. Lee Partners co-President Scott Sperling told reporters and editors at a Reuters Summit on private equity and hedge funds on Tuesday.
Jacqueline Novogratz, chief executive officer of Acumen Fund, told the Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit that her fund, which invests in promising businesses that cater to the basic needs of the poor in India, Pakistan and Africa, is in the business of choosing winners — businesses that can thrive when given some seed capital and a little bit of guidance.
Phillip Maisano, head of alternative investments at Mellon Asset Management says that hedge funds have let go of many of their swashbuckling ways when it comes to battling central banks. The potential regulatory reprisals would be too strong. But funds will still attack weak companies, Maisano notes.
Scott Sperling, co-president of buyout firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, says that companies that would have once advertised on the radio or in print media are increasingly looking at the Internet.
Rock and roll icon Bono may seem like an unlikely asset for a private equity fund, but he helps win business and close deals, says Bret Pearlman, co-founder of Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that Bono helped found. The rock and roller usually participates in Elevation’s weekly meetings for partners, Pearlman adds.
Some radio purists argue that the industry is facing trouble now because of lousy programming. Scott Sperling, co-president at Thomas H. Lee Partners, a buyout firm that is hoping to buy Clear Channel Communications Inc. says Clear Channel radio’s real problem is a broad decline in radio advertising that has little to do with programming.
Phillip Maisano, head of alternative investments at Mellon Asset Management, thinks that merger arbitrage funds are worth looking at now, as merger activity runs at a record pace.