Ten billion dollar hedge fund Archegos Capital Management is imploding, causing banks to frantically sell its portfolio to stem further losses:
One mystery in a dramatic year on Wall Street has been the identity of a trader whose persistent purchases have sent shares in ViacomCBS Inc., Discovery Inc. and a handful of other companies surging even when the broader market was down.
People familiar with the transactions say the answer is former Tiger Asia manager Bill Hwang. Late last week Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG swiftly unloaded large blocks of shares in those companies and others, part of the liquidation of positions at Mr. Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management.
The sales approached $30 billion in value, some of the people said, and fueled a 27% plunge Friday in shares of ViacomCBS—an unusually large decline in a widely held, large-capitalization stock on a day with no significant company-specific news. Billions of market value in other companies were wiped out as the sales continued, surprising market participants who called the size and speed of these stock sales unprecedented.
Hwang had placed giant bets on several stocks funded with borrowed money, and his fund suffered major losses when the stocks moved against him:
…a major actor in supporting companies’ share prices appears to have been undone by his continuing to add to leveraged bets as markets soared. The strategy fell apart when some of those bets started to reverse on him.
There were serious warning signs about Hwang’s conduct, which his banks, including Nomura and Credit Suisse, did not heed:
U.S. securities filings show Credit Suisse was prime broker in 2011 and 2012 to Mr. Hwang’s former firm, Tiger Asia Management LLC. Tiger Asia handed money back to investors after Mr. Hwang admitted in December 2012 that the hedge fund criminally used inside information from investment banks at least three times to profit on securities trades.
This is the latest in a string of problems for Credit Suisse:
Credit Suisse is still digesting the collapse earlier this month of Greensill, a British supply-chain finance company that declared bankruptcy shortly after the Swiss bank froze funds that provided it with liquidity. The double hit could be an extraordinary run of bad luck; there were other banks caught up in both failures. Alternatively, it could point to endemic problems of risk management at Credit Suisse. The Swiss company carried on working with Greensill despite internal concerns.
So if you see volatility in stocks like Viacom, Discovery, Credit Suisse, etc. in the coming days, you’ll know where it’s coming from. I do wonder if other stocks may be impacted by this forced selling of Archegos’ positions.
For more on what’s moving markets, check out these posts:
- Palantir’s Hidden Risk: 20% of Its Commercial Business Is a Single Customer
- Forget GameStop, Treasury Yields Are The Thing to Watch
- This One Trend is Driving Every Financial Market
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