Faced with what they call intransigence on the part of Bear Stearns, investors in one of its collapsed mortgage hedge funds are trying to dump the Wall Street firm as the fund’s controlling party in an effort to probe what went wrong.
More than 10% of the investors in the once-$650 million High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund have sought the change, triggering votes to be held on Nov. 7 at Bear headquarters in New York to oust the firm as the fund’s general partner, and a week later in London to replace five Bear-appointed directors at its overseas affiliate. The petitioners hope to have FTI Capital Advisors, a forensic accounting firm, named the new controlling party.
Reed Smith, the law firm representing the investors pushing for the change, says that Bear has not offered sufficient cooperation in the investigation to determine how the fund lost just about all of its value in the subprime downturn. The law firm said that it has mustered almost enough support to ensure Bear’s ouster. FTI would be charged with conducting a thorough investigation into the fund’s collapse.
But the victory is far from assured: As controlling party, Bear Stearns Asset Management controls the voting process. And while the proposal needs just a simple majority to pass, investors representing more than half of the fund’s initial capital must be present within a half-hour of the meeting’s start time. If they are not, Bear can cancel the vote.