Monthly Archives: July 2013

Exploring Uncharted Territories of the Hedge Fund Industry

The following post comes to us from Daniel Edelman of Alternative Investment Solutions; William Fung, Visiting Research Professor at the London Business School and Chairman of Maple Financial Group; and David Hsieh, Professor of Finance at Duke University.

It is virtually impossible to obtain accurate historical data on the entire universe of hedge funds. In our paper, Exploring Uncharted Territories of the Hedge Fund Industry: Empirical Characteristics of Mega Hedge Fund Firms, forthcoming in the Journal of Financial Economics, we identify previously unexplored data sources whereby collecting data on fewer than four hundred large hedge fund management firms that do not participate in major commercial databases adds to the observable industry in assets under management (AUM) terms by as much as 34% in 2001 rising to 65% by the end of 2010. Towards the end of our sample period, these nonreporting firms collectively manage US $862 billion of AUM that is missing from the reported US $1,322 billion of AUM managed by firms in the three major commercial databases combined. We manually collect the names and AUMs of large hedge fund firms that do not participate in commercial databases from surveys published by Institutional Investor and Absolute Return+Alpha magazines, which are good sources of information with almost a decade of continuous history. These previously untapped sources of data provide valuable insight into the capital formation process of the industry over the past decade. While commercial databases have successfully depicted data on the growing trend of hedge fund industry’s AUM, from US $278 billion in 2001 to US $1,322 billion in 2010, there is a more important trend in the capital formation process of the industry that has not been considered in the research literature. We show that over this past decade, the AUM of nonreporting mega hedge fund firms has grown from US $118 billion (2001) to US $863 billion (2010). Results point to a rapid growth of mega hedge fund companies opting for privacy dropping out of the voluntary system of reporting to commercial databases. The empirical evidence confirms that a small group of mega hedge fund firms manages the bulk of the assets in the industry. Taken together, this implies that the assets of the hedge fund industry are concentrated in the hands of a small number of mega management firms with rising opacity as their AUM increases.

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The Future in Law and Finance

The following post comes to us from Alessio Pacces, Professor of Law and Finance at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam. The post is based on Professor Pacces’ inaugural lecture for the Chair in Law and Finance at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam. The full text of the lecture is available here.

Traditionally, law and finance has been concerned with investor protection. That would be enough if the future were predictable. However, because the future is in fact uncertain and unpredictable, the prices of financial assets are flawed and in the short run they may result in serious mistakes, if not widespread crises. Although these mistakes are corrected in the long run, a lot of harm may occur in the meantime. Drawing on the experience from the global financial crisis, I argue that financial law should be concerned not only with investor protection, but also with mitigating the temporary excesses of markets in allowing or restricting access to finance.

The challenge of this goal is to remedy market malfunctioning without undermining market discipline. This is possible if central banks backstop banks’ illiquidity during a crisis, provided that regulation preserves the central banks’ incentives to distinguish illiquidity from insolvency. Moreover, in order to prevent the backstop from resulting in moral hazard by financial institutions, regulation should police the incentives of both managers and shareholders. On the one hand, bank managers should not be allowed to cash in the profit of short-term success. On the other hand, corporate law should allow shareholders to commit to the long term via takeover restrictions, granting bankers private benefits of control to complement the deferral of performance pay.

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Good Faith: The New Frontier of Agreements to Negotiate

Douglas P. Warner is a partner and head of US Private Equity and Hedge Fund practices at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. This post is based on a Weil Gotshal alert by Benton B. Bodamer, and is part of the Delaware law series, which is cosponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.

Negotiating a term sheet, LOI, or other preliminary document can sometimes feel a bit like the Wild West: local laws and unintended consequences can vary from town to town. Even a concept as seemingly straightforward as agreeing to negotiate in good faith can yield extremely different results depending on jurisdiction. The Delaware Supreme Court’s recent decision in SIGA Technologies, Inc. v. PharmAthene, Inc. is a warning shot to investors and deal makers that, unlike most other states in the US, Delaware will award expectation (i.e., “benefit-of-the-bargain”) damages for the breach of an agreement to negotiate. What this means in practical terms is that, in certain circumstances, failure to fully negotiate a deal based on a non-binding but detailed term sheet could result in full damages as if the parties had actually signed up a deal.

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Harvard Convenes the Roundtable on Executive Compensation

The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance and the Harvard Law School Program on Institutional Investors convened its Roundtable on Executive Compensation last Thursday, June 27. This event brought together for a roundtable discussion prominent representatives of the investor, issuer, advisor, and academic communities. Participants in the event, and the topics of discussion, are set out below.

The Roundtable, which was co-organized by Lucian Bebchuk, Stephen Davis, and Scott Hirst, was sponsored by the CFA Institute and Pearl Meyer & Partners. In addition to the CFA Institute and Pearl Meyer & Partners, other sponsors were EMC Corporation, Equilar, Frederic W. Cook & Co., JPMorgan Chase, PepsiCo, Prudential Financial, Quest Diagnostics and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals.

The first session of the Roundtable on Executive Compensation focused on issues relating to engagement between issuers and shareholders regarding pay arrangements. Among the issues discussed were issuer disclosure of pay arrangements, review by proxy advisors, and communications between issuers and investors.

The second session of the Roundtable on Executive Compensation focused on the terms of pay arrangements. Among the issues discussed were pay levels, the use of peer group data in determining pay levels, how pay should be measured and assessed, and the link between pay and long-term performance.

The participants in the Roundtable on Executive Compensation included:

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Should Your Company Adopt A Forum Selection Bylaw?

Editor’s Note: Victor Lewkow is a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. This post is based on a Cleary Gottlieb memorandum by Mr. Lewkow, Neil Whoriskey, and Julie Yip-Williams, and is part of the Delaware law series, which is co-sponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here. Additional reading about Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et al., and Iclub Inv. P’ship v. FedEx Corp. is available here.

In a much anticipated decision, the Delaware Chancery Court upheld on June 25, 2013 the validity of the forum selection bylaws adopted by the boards of directors of FedEx Corporation (“FedEx”) and Chevron Corporation (“Chevron”). Such bylaws provide that stockholders bringing derivative claims or claims alleging breaches of fiduciary duties, arising from the Delaware General Corporate Law (the “DGCL”) or otherwise implicating the internal affairs of the corporation be brought exclusively in Delaware state or federal courts. In rendering his opinion, Chancellor Leo Strine found that specifying the forum for litigating such matters is well within the statutorily permitted scope of bylaw provisions under Section 109(b) of the DGCL. Further, the Court found that these unilateral board actions to adopt such bylaws without the consent of stockholders were nonetheless contractually binding on stockholders because Section 109(b) of the DGCL allows a corporation, through its certificate of incorporation, to grant directors the power to adopt and amend bylaws unilaterally (which was the case here). When FedEx and Chevron stockholders invested in the respective corporations, they were deemed under Delaware law to be put on notice that the board could amend the bylaws to include provisions such as the one at issue.

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Legal Diversification

The following post comes to us from Kelli A. Alces, Loula Fuller and Dan Myers Professor at Florida State University College of Law.

Diversification is the best protection investors have from the risks of capital investment. Modern portfolio theory requires that investors diversify their holdings by investing in firms whose financial returns are influenced by different factors. That has traditionally meant investing in firms in different industries. The object is to identify the factors that could cause a firm’s return to vary from what is expected and to invest in firms that differ with regard to those elements of risk. By employing this investment strategy, investors can “diversify away” firm-specific risks.

In my forthcoming Essay, Legal Diversification, I introduce a new dimension along which investors can diversify. “Legal diversification” is an investment strategy whereby investors purchase securities governed by different legal rules in order to diversify away the risk that any one set of legal rules will fail to adequately limit the agency costs of business management. An investor may hold a diversified portfolio of stocks in different kinds of public corporations, but that portfolio would not necessarily be legally diversified. A portfolio would be legally diversified if it contained various kinds of securities issued by privately held limited liability companies, public corporations, emerging growth companies, and various derivatives. By holding a diversified portfolio of investments in firms and securities governed by different legal rules, investors can enjoy some protection from the failures of a particular legal regime while also sampling the benefits more successful regimes offer.

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Lucian Bebchuk Delivers Presidential Address to the Western Economic Association International

In the recent annual meeting of the Western Economic Association International (WEAI), held in Seattle this past weekend, Professor Lucian Bebchuk delivered a presidential address entitled “The Rent-Protection Theory of Corporate Ownership and Control.”

Bebchuk served as President of the WEAI during 2012-2013, its President-Elect during 2011-2012, and its Vice-President in 2010-2011.

Past presidents of the WEAI includes Nobel Laureates James Heckman (2007), Clive Granger (2003), Oliver Williamson (2000), Gary Becker (1997), Milton Friedman (1985), James Buchanan (1984), Kenneth Arrow (1981) and Douglass North (1976).

Founded in 1922, WEAI is a non-profit, educational organization of economists, with about 1,800 members around the world, dedicated to encouraging and communicating economic research and analysis.

Bebchuk’s presidential address is expected to be published next year in the WEAI’s journal Economic Inquiry.

Delaware Court Addresses Derivative Claim Value Extinguished by Merger

Allen M. Terrell, Jr. is a director at Richards, Layton & Finger. This post is based on a Richards, Layton & Finger publication, and is part of the Delaware law series, which is co-sponsored by the Forum and Corporation Service Company; links to other posts in the series are available here.

In In re Primedia, Inc. Shareholders Litigation, 2013 WL 2169415 (Del. Ch. May 10, 2013), Vice Chancellor Laster of the Court of Chancery held that plaintiffs whose standing to pursue derivative insider trading claims had been extinguished by merger had standing to challenge directly the entire fairness of that merger based on a claim that the target board of directors failed to obtain sufficient value in the merger for the pending derivative claims.

In late 2005 and early 2006, two plaintiffs filed derivative complaints on behalf of Primedia, Inc. (“Primedia” or the “Company”) generally asserting that the members of the Company’s board of directors had breached their fiduciary duties by causing Primedia to sell assets and redeem preferred stock in a manner that benefitted certain affiliates of KKR, Primedia’s controlling stockholder. Primedia’s board formed a special litigation committee (the “SLC”) and authorized it to investigate plaintiffs’ allegations. While the SLC’s investigation was ongoing, plaintiffs amended their complaint to assert corporate opportunity claims against the KKR affiliates and indicated to the SLC their belief that the documents produced to plaintiffs during the SLC’s investigation would support an insider trading claim against the KKR affiliates under Brophy v. Cities Service Co., 70 A.2d 5 (Del. Ch. 1949).

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Political Connectedness and Corporate Policies

The following post comes to us from Ashley Newton and Vahap Uysal, both of the Division of Finance at the University of Oklahoma.

In our paper, “The Impact of Political Connectedness on Firm Value and Corporate Policies: Evidence from Citizens United,” we examine the reasons behind a company’s decision to become politically connected and what impact such connections have on firm value and corporate policies. Political connections may enhance or harm shareholder value. However, existing insights attempting to address the impact of corporate political connectedness on shareholder value are inconclusive. In an effort to test for the existence of a causal link between political connections and changes in shareholder value, we pose our research questions in the context of a natural experiment. Specifically, we focus on an exogenous enhancement in the value implications of political connectedness that accompanied the landmark Supreme Court case, Citizens United.

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