FrontPoint Partners Hands Out Pink Slips

Dec 10 2010 | 3:02pm ET

Morgan Stanley’s soon-to-be spun off beleaguered hedge fund unit FrontPoint Partners handed out pink slips today. One source told Wall Street tabloid Dealbreaker, which broke the news, that the layoffs “were brutal; large crowd of the ones let go have gathered at McDuffies on Railroad Ave. Survivors still don’t even know if or when the sucky bonus (if any) will be.”

It is not known how many employees have been let go. A spokeswoman for FrontPoint declined to comment.

This has not been a pretty year for the Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund firm. Last month, Yves Benhamou, a French doctor, was accused of passing insider information to a portfolio manager at FrontPoint. FrontPoint, which has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the case, placed Joseph Skowron, its lead healthcare fund manager, on leave pending the conclusion of the investigation. In late November it also announced that it would wind down the two healthcare funds he managed and return the $1.5 billion invested in them to investors. FrontPoint allegedly escaped $30 million in losses with Benhamou's information.

That scandal has caused investors in FrontPoint to head for the hills. Redemption notices have reportedly been coming in at a furious pace. As much as 40% of the firm’s assets under management are set to be returned to investors, according to the Wall Street Journal. A letter to investors obtained by the Journal said that the firm expects to manage roughly $5 billion next year.  

Meanwhile, just last week it was revealed that FrontPoint's Strategic Credit Investments fund drew from the government’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility program 48 times, borrowing a total of $4.1 billion. A spokesman for the firm said at the time, "On behalf of clients, FrontPoint was an early participant in the government TALF program. With our clients, we were able to support the government in this important initiative.”

In October, FrontPoint’s top executives and portfolio managers struck a deal on the management buyout of the hedge fund firm. Morgan Stanley Investment Management is keeping a minority stake in the firm following the close of the transaction, which expected by the end of the year.


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