Hedge fund legend Lee Cooperman goes ‘family’
Hedge fund legend Lee Cooperman is tired of running other peoples’ money.
The 75-year-old billionaire behind Omega Advisors is converting his shop to a family office by the end of the year, according to a letter sent to investors on Monday.
“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life chasing the S&P 500 and focused on generating returns on investor capital,” Cooperman wrote.
“The decision is a very personal one driven not by any health concerns, but solely by how I want to spend my remaining years,” he added.
Omega, which was launched in 1991, has faced trouble in recent years.
Although performance is up 7 percent this year, assets under management fell from a peak of $9.4 billion in 2015 to roughly $3.8 billion today after investors pulled money out after the Securities and Exchange Commission accused the hedge fund of insider trading.
In May 2017 the hedge fund settled with the Wall Street watchdog — without admitting wrongdoing — and agreed to pay a $4.9 million fine.
Cooperman had vowed to fight the SEC to clear his name, telling investors in September 2016: “I am not going to let these people destroy my legacy.”
But the hedgie settled after realizing the time and expense of a protracted legal battle.
“I am still conflicted over that decision, but it is water under the bridge,” Cooperman wrote in a CNBC.com op-ed last May.
In explaining his rationale for closing up shop, Cooperman cited Kenny Rogers’ hit, “The Gambler” — known for the chorus, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”
But Cooperman noted that Rogers, 79, who was still performing in April, “clearly doesn’t follow his own advice.”
Rogers “acknowledged that at almost 80, he shouldn’t be performing any longer, but that he’d been divorced four times and needed the money!” Cooperman wrote.
The hedgie is thankful for his different circumstances.
“I’ve been happily married to the same woman for 54 years, don’t need the money, and know when to fold ‘em,” Cooperman wrote.
Despite this decision to stop managing outside money, Cooperman vowed to remain active in the financial world, telling investors he was happy to be a “sounding board” for them.
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