For SAC employees, it’s not any given Thursday
By Katya Wachtel and Peter Rudegeair
At SAC Capital Advisors’ sprawling Stamford, Connecticut headquarters on Thursday morning, security guards barred reporters from getting too close to the office building, holding them to an intersection a few hundred yards from the driveway.
A security guard said SAC had not added any extra security at 72 Cummings Point Rd today, when federal authorities charged Steve Cohen’s $15 billion hedge fund with wire and securities fraud in connection with its long-running insider trading probe. But those who know the location disagreed.
Grace DeVito, a portrait artist who lives around the corner from the Cummings Road office, said there was a “different feel” around the place today. She walked past the so-called campus with her two dogs and her daughter on Thursday morning and observed that two security guards were inspecting incoming cars to see if they had a sticker to park in the SAC parking lot. “Usually there’s no one out,” Grace said, referring to the guards.
Meanwhile, at SAC’s New York office, signs of heightened tension were more difficult to detect. On the surface at least, it was business as usual at the shiny glass office tower at 510 Madison Avenue, where SAC has several floors and its own elevator bank.
An investment banker who was at 510 Madison for a meeting said earlier in the morning he had greeted several SAC workers he knows. The man, who gave only his first initial J due to ongoing friendships with SAC employees, said the people with whom he spoke were in good spirits, relaxed, and it was “business as usual.”
“I talked to someone in recruiting at SAC recently and they said they’re still actively recruiting,” said J. “What are they supposed to do, just shut down? They have to do their job.”
One jovial SAC employee who declined to give a name but stopped momentarily outside the office seemed relaxed and in a good mood. Asked if over recent days there had been signs of panic or anxiety in the office, the person said not at all but wouldn’t comment any further.
One man walking into the office confirmed he worked for SAC but shook his head when asked about the criminal charges. Another man also confirmed he worked for SAC and apologized for not being able to comment further. Several other men and women briskly walked away, looked straight to the ground or shook their heads angrily when asked if they’re employees of SAC. Others happily confirmed they worked in the building, but not for Cohen.
“I don’t… Thank god,” said one man on his way out of the building.
As for those who do, the question is now whether this latest proceeding will put more pressure on Cohen to pack up shop. And there are roughly 900 employees probably wondering the same thing.
“There’s going to be a lot of anxiety on the part of the employees given the uncertainty about their company’s ability to continue to exist, the questions they might have about who might be held responsible for wrongdoing, will it spill over to particular employees,” said Richard Ottenstein, psychologist and CEO of the Workplace Trauma Center in Sykeville, Maryland.
With additional reporting by Emily Flitter