One thing to start: Kepler Cheuvreux has informed clients that one of its equity analysts has received “anonymous intimidation attempts”, which the brokerage group said was because of the analyst’s coverage of certain European retailers. The employee has now stopped covering French supermarket group Casino and German wholesaler Metro as a result, according to emails seen by the FT.

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His Theresa: a hedge fund manager’s stunning slip-up at Neiman Marcus

Pity the man charged with picking through the wreckage of Neiman Marcus and salvaging a future for the failed department store chain.

Back in May, Texas bankruptcy judge David Jones called a Neiman director charged with investigating allegations of fraudulent asset transfers “borderline incompetent”. (The director in question, Marc Beilinson, resigned in June, following a medical emergency.)

Now, the hedge fund manager credited with putting those questionable asset transfers in the spotlight has himself been hit with allegations of wrongdoing — and it all started with a text.

“DO NOT SEND IN A BID,” Daniel Kamensky typed into his Bloomberg instant messaging platform, after learning that investment bank Jefferies was planning to bid against his Marble Ridge hedge fund for a slice of Neiman’s most valuable subsidiary, online retailer MyTheresa.

Kamensky told the bankers that he would use his position as co-chair of the committee of Neiman’s unsecured creditors to scupper Jefferies’ offer, according to a damning report from a US bankruptcy trustee.

In doing so, the trustee found, Marble Ridge, “breached [its] fiduciary duty of loyalty to the creditors it represented by coercing an outside investor to refrain from bidding”.

US law prescribes stringent penalties for people who behave improperly during bankruptcy proceedings — and it wasn’t long before Kamensky was trying to undo the damage.

“Maybe I should go to jail,” Kamensky told an unidentified Jefferies banker, in what he later admitted was an effort to get Jefferies to “manage the message” surrounding the bank’s abortive bid. “But I’m asking you not to put me in jail.”

It’s a truly Shakespearean reversal of fortune for the buccaneering hedge fund manager, whose emails and phone calls can be savoured at greater length in this report by DD’s Sujeet Indap and Mark Vandevelde.

Kamensky resigned as co-chair of Neiman’s unsecured creditors’ committee on August 1.

The latest on Greensill and a brick wall

Lex Greensill is a regular fixture in the DD newsletter and for good reason.

The billionaire former investment banker, who has said that his eponymous company is “changing finance to change the world” while advancing “the democratisation of capital”, is often front and centre of some of the most eye-catching pieces of financial engineering in Europe.

Readers will remember that we revealed in June that SoftBank had quietly poured more than $500m into Credit Suisse investment funds, which in turn provided large amounts of supply-chain finance to struggling start-ups backed by the Japanese technology conglomerate’s Vision Fund.

Greensill Capital, which is itself backed by SoftBank’s flagship $100bn technology investment fund, selected all of the assets that go into these funds under an agreement dating back to 2017.

The Credit Suisse funds concerned have faced a fair amount of press scrutiny recently, for financing everything from scandal-plagued hospital operator NMC Health to the owner of a hotel in Mogadishu.

But our friends over at FT Alphaville have discovered that one company named in its portfolio doesn’t actually exist. Follow their entertaining journey down a rabbit hole of fund filings and corporate documents here. 

The drama at Norway’s $1tn oil fund 

Remember when we told you about the trouble unfolding in Norway’s $1tn oil fund back in April?

As a refresher, its newly appointed head Nicolai Tangen, pictured below, who happens to be one of London’s most successful hedge fund managers, prompted backlash when details emerged of the unconventional hiring process that led him to the helm of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.

The story had the makings of a great tale. There was the ill-advised ride by the fund’s current chief Yngve Slyngstad on a private jet chartered by Tangen, followed by Slyngstad’s emotional plea for forgiveness (he “really screwed up”).

Questions began circling around Norway’s central bank governor Oystein Olsen and just how he managed to hire the hedge fund magnate in the first place. (He appeared to have skipped a few regulatory steps.)

Tangen, who will retain a 43 per cent controlling stake in his $20bn hedge fund AKO Capital, has vowed to change his lavish lifestyle upon entering a life of public servitude. 

The oil fund can’t allocate to hedge funds per its investment policy, so there’s little chance he could funnel the money to his own active strategies. But a majority in Norway’s parliament said that’s not enough. 

The underlying fear is that Tangen could steer the massive fund, which has become one of the world’s most powerful shareholders owning on average 1.5 per cent of every listed company globally, in a way that could still benefit AKO.

Pictured left to right: Oystein Olsen, Nicolai Tangen and Yngve Slyngstad

In the latest development, Norway’s finance minister Jan Tore Sanner is set to begin discussions with the central bank over whether the country is prepared to welcome who one leftwing politician called a “walking conflict of interest” into its top job.

And with Tangen due to replace Slyngstad as soon as September 1, the clock is ticking down.

The dialogue has also led to concern over political interference in the independently governed fund. 

“Some political parties have wanted to get their hands on the oil fund for a long time and seem to think this is their chance,” one Norwegian fund manager told the FT’s Richard Milne. Another financial executive called it “drama in the highest order”.

With only 10 days before Tangen is set to take over, coupled with the twin coronavirus and oil price crises burdening the fund, we can only imagine what twists and turns the next episode holds.

Job moves

  • Law firm Paul Hastings has hired Peter Hayes as partner in its finance practice. He joins the London office from Shearman & Sterling, where he led the European finance practice.

Smart reads

Bankruptcy bonus What do many US companies filing for bankruptcy have in common besides, of course, being broke? Multimillion-dollar “retention” payments to top executives. (FT)

Bad chemistry Covid-19 and the looming threat of a second wave has propelled governments into some ill-advised merger matchmaking. In the case of carmakers Nissan and Honda, the connection just wasn’t there. (FT)

On the upswing Severe market volatility has fuelled an unexpected renaissance for macro hedge funds, whose brash bets on economic trends pair well in an age of unfettered economic chaos. (FT)

News round-up

McKinsey earnt £560,000 for giving ‘vision’ to new English pandemic body (FT)

Private equity/EQT: the ins and outs (FT Lex) 

Accor/IHG: checked out (FT Lex)

Former House speaker Paul Ryan starts blank-check company (WSJ)

Australia set to bar China dairy takeover as trade tensions rise (FT)

Fitness retailer Sweaty Betty Is preparing to sell itself (BBG)

Alibaba beats revenue expectations despite looming threat (FT + Lex)

Kuwait’s state oil company picks adviser to merge units (BBG)

MBK Partners leads group in talks to take HK-listed Car Inc. private (Reuters)

Due Diligence is written by Arash Massoudi, Kaye Wiggins and Robert Smith in London, Javier Espinoza in Brussels, James Fontanella-Khan, Ortenca Aliaj, Sujeet Indap, Eric Platt, Mark Vandevelde and Francesca Friday in New York and Miles Kruppa in San Francisco. Please send feedback to due.diligence@ft.com


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