Hansen Hedge Fund Falls, Hoop Dreams Hit

Apr 30 2013 | 11:54am ET

This has not been a good week for Valiant Capital Management's Christopher Hansen.

First, he had to tell clients that his hedge fund had followed up its worst-ever quarter with a new worst-ever quarter. Then, he received news from New York that his dreams of bringing a professional basketball team back to Seattle had taken a big hit.

San Francisco-based Valiant suffered an 8.7% net loss in the first quarter, Alpha magazine reports. It's the hedge fund's second-straight down quarter, and the second time in as many quarters that it's set an unwanted mark. The $2.44 billion hedge fund lost 7.44% in the fourth quarter of last year.

Valiant posted losses on its big investment in Apple Inc., as well as in Africa, China, India and the Middle East.

Valiant has managed annualized returns of 13% since its debut in 2008, and last year returned 10.32% in spite of the rough fourth-quarter. In his last letter to investors, Hansen noted that "volatility is an undeniable reality of our business" and denied that his effort to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to his hometown had impacted Valiant's performance.

In any event, it looks like there will be no basketball in Seattle next year, after the National Basketball Association's Relocation Committee unanimously rejected Hansen's application to move the Kings. That recommendation now moves to the NBA's full Board of Governors, which is expected to accept it: If just one other owner joins the seven members of the Relocation Committee the week of May 13, the Kings will remain in California's capital.

It is unclear what the vote means for Hansen's deal to buy the Kings, but the hedge fund manager has said he isn't giving up.

"We have a binding transaction to purchase the Kings for what would be a record price for an NBA franchise, have one of the best ownership groups ever assembled to purchase a professional sports team in the U.S., have clearly demonstrated that we have a much more solid Arena plan, have offered a much higher price than the yet to be finalized Sacramento Group, and have placed all of the funds to close the transaction into escrow." Hansen said in a statement. "As such, we plan to unequivocally state our case for both relocation and our plan to move forward with the transaction to the league and owners at the upcoming Board of Governor’s meeting in mid-May."

“When we started this process everyone thought it was impossible. While this represents yet another obstacle to achieving our goal, I just wanted to reassure all of you that we have numerous options at our disposal and have absolutely no plans to give up. Impossible is nothing but a state of mind."


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