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    A New Look at Last Year’s Conference Board White Paper on Governance Last year the Conference Board asked itself several questions germane to corporate governance. They were good questions. The odd thing about the report was the way the greybeards involved simply threw up their hands rather than trying to answer any of them.

    You don’t need to be a weatherman (or a hedge fund’s star trader, a corporate board member, a securities lawyer…) to know at least a couple of things about the governance of public corporations in the 21st century. Specifically: activist shareholders have attained an unprecedented level of importance, often crashing the once-sedate garden parties of corporate board deliberations. Second, the institutional context in which they can do this has been molded and will be remolded some number of times in the near future by changes (technological, legal, and even sociological) in the way in which equity is traded in and outside of the stock exchanges of the developed world., Last year a conference board white paper tried to do the work of meteorology, tried that is to figure out exactly where the winds are blowing and what sort of balance the parties in the corporate governance picture may in time adopt in the face of the storm. Too Stale? Yes, we like to think that the news moves fast in these matters, ...

Featured Post


The Skorina Report: A Look at the New Investment Crew at NYU

Charles Skorina looks at the new crew at NYU.

New York University opened its doors in 1831 and it's now the biggest private college in the country by enrollment. But their $3.4 billion endowment is relatively small for a large private US university (it's only the 28th-largest) and its performance hasn't been very impressive. We've paid much more attention to their uptown rival, Columbia University, whose $9.2 billion endowment is bigger, higher-performing, and officially Ivy League.  We ranked Columbia and Yale tied for number one by 10-year performance in our annual ...


The Skorina Report: The Best, The Rest & Our Pick for Public Endowment CIO of Decade

Charles Skorina looks at the top public endowments and discusses performance with Erik Lundberg.

This month we are pleased to bring you our annual survey of endowment performance at the Public Ivys, including many of America’s biggest, most prestigious, and best-endowed public universities. We think the performance of these endowments ought to be of interest not only to the endowment and foundation community, but to the investment world at large.  They include some extremely talented people getting results which rival investment organizations anywhere. And, they are important clients for many for-profit money managers all over the ...

Guest Posts


The Skorina Report: A Look at the New Investment Crew at NYU
Charles Skorina looks at the new crew at NYU.

New York University opened its doors in 1831 and it's now the biggest private college in the country by enrollment. But their $3.4 billion endowment is relatively small for a large private US university (it's only the 28th-largest) and its performance hasn't been very impressive. We've paid much more attention to their uptown rival, Columbia University, whose $9.2 billion endowment is bigger, higher-performing, and officially Ivy League.  We ranked Columbia and Yale tied for number one by 10-year performance in our annual ...


Institutional Investing

7 Messages Family Offices Give Emerging Managers
Guest columnist Diane Harrison examines the relationship between family offices and emerging managers and why some managers get money and why others don't.

By Diane Harrison After attending a recent conference where experts discussed prevalent issues family offices struggle with in terms of their investment management activities, it struck me that there is a certain disconnect in the communications aimed towards and emanating from these family offices. The number of family offices in the United States is roughly the same as the number of emerging managers looking to family offices for investments, and that current figure is in the thousands. Why then are these managers finding the prospects for placement of their funds so ...

Retail Investing

‘Women of the Street’—Not Just Another War Story
Meredith Jones' book on investing in women takes it to the Street and comes back with some solid conclusions.

Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too) By Meredith A. Jones Palgrave MacMillan, hard back US$30 I admit that I was skeptical when I received my copy of Meredith Jones, “Women of the Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (And How You Can Too).” I’ll carbon date myself and admit that I’m old enough to remember when women’s business clothes were knock-offs of men’s suits and the blouses had big droopy bows that were supposed to be the feminine equivalent of the ...

Hedge Fund Strategies

Delivering Alpha Highlights: Part Two
Low interest rates and record equity valuations together mean that companies can use either stock swaps or borrowed cash or a combination of the two, to buy one another. Further, corporate executives infer that they have to keep buying in order not to become a target themselves.

Surely John Paulson’s discussion of merger arb with Melissa Lee counts as one of the highlights of this year’s Delivering Alpha conference. In part, it became a highlight through the luck of timing, that is, breaking news on the subject: 21st Century Fox had just offered to take over Time Warner, bidding $80 billion. Time Warner has also immediately rejected the offer, but in the view of the market, the fact of such an offer puts the company in play. A common pattern in such cases is that the offerer’s equity falls ...

Risk management

SBA of Florida Looks into Truth & Consequences of Activist Investing
Florida's State Board of Administration deserves some credit for undertaking a recent corporate governance study. Even trying to look at the consequences of its proxy-contest votes over a period of up to five years after they are cast seems to have shattered a glass ceiling separating actual institutional behavior from common sense.

Florida’s State Board of Administration, the manager of the assets of the Florida Retirement System Pension Plan, has a long record of engagement with the managers of the corporations in which it has invested those assets, and it has of necessity made a lot of proxy voting decisions. In 2014, Activist Insight named the SBA the top institutional investor in voting to support dissident slates in proxy contests. In June 2015, the SBA released a report looking at the consequences of those voting decisions. This sounds like a straightforward, routine, common-sense ...

Private Equity

Alternative Investments By the Numbers: Top 5 2015 YTD Takeaways
Guest columnist Andre Boreas takes a look at the alternative investment universe year-to-date 2015 by the numbers.

By Andre Boreas, CEO, Quadsight Partners As the half-way point of the year passes, we thought it would be a good time to take a look and see where things stand with the hedge fund and private equity markets, including five important takeaways from the first half of 2015:   Capital raising continues to be strong across all asset classes. Total hedge fund assets topped $2.94 trillion in Q1 with $18.2 billion in new capital allocated according to ...

Technology

Enterprise Software Marketers Confirm: Seven is a Sacred Number
God rested on the seventh day of the week of creation. Ever since, the number seven has stood for the completion of an epoch, or of a perfect set. Thus, a German enterprise concern has now listed the "seven pillars" for improved market surveillance through software.

A German enterprise software concern recently published a white paper about financial market scandals, expressing its views as to how regulators can “get serious” about market surveillance. It’s worth looking seriously at these ideas (even if they were put forward, in essence, as advertising) for what they may say about how certain international winds are blowing. It’s also somewhat amusing to see the way in which authors settle upon the number “seven” in order to make ...

Media Coverage of Hedge Funds

Delivering Alpha Highlights: Part One
Larry Fink is "deeply worried" that the combination of share repo with high-yield debt is "one of the reasons why we have a below trend-line economy. We're not investing in the future as much as we should." Carl Icahn, predictably, has a very different view of what ails us.

On Wednesday, July 15th, at the Delivering Alpha conference, Carl Icahn debated Larry Fink, with the moderating/refereeing services of Scott Wapner of CNBC. The Icahn/Fink debate wasn’t labelled as a debate. It was a “panel.” But it was a panel of two (aside from Wapner, who was of there in an officiating capacity), and it was a panel of two who have quite predictably contrasting opinions about the subject proposed for their discussion: activist investing. Just ...

Technology

Climate Finance: A Priority for the MDBs
A new report from the World Bank says that six multilateral development banks delivered more than $28 billion in financing in 2014 that "address climate change" in one of two ways, mitigation or adaptation.

A recent report from the World Bank gives a sense of how much aid available through the world’s multilateral development banks (MDBs) is spent on the goal of “decarbonizing the world economy.” The report, available in full here, makes reference to six institutions in particular: the African Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the European Investment Bank; the Inter-American Development Bank; and the World Bank Group. The bottom line: ...