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The Wall Street Journal posted the transcript of Amaranth CEO Nick Maounis’s comments to investors – including San Diego County – today:
… we estimate that, as of September 22, the Net Asset Value of the Multi-Strategy Funds had declined approximately 65% month-to-date and approximately 55% year-to-date.
If this number holds, that means an $85 million to $90 million loss for the San Diego county pension fund from its initial investment of $175 million. County pension CEO Brian White told The Daily Transcript’s Samuel Hodgson that the loss was $87 million. That means it was, indeed, about double what White estimated earlier, just as I calculated yesterday. White shouldn’t be blamed for missing the estimate, Amaranth keeps pulling out more bad news. But if I found out Thursday morning on CNBC that it was much worse than we thought, surely White found out sooner. He should have updated his estimate for the Thursday board meeting rather than repeating his $45 million figure for the public while at the same time denying that he was “minimizing” the loss.
Despite the disaster, Amaranth says it hopes to restore investors’ confidence:
We have every intention of continuing in business, generating for our investors the same consistently high risk-adjusted returns which have been our hallmark, and we are fully committed to doing so.
But it won’t be giving back any money right away.
We have received substantial redemption requests. Given the fluid situation, we are evaluating what is best for all investors in a manner consistent with our fiduciary obligations and will keep you informed of our progress. Amaranth Advisors LLC has retained Phil Harris and the resources of Skadden Arps, who are very experienced resolving situations such as ours.
And the kicker:
We lost a lot of our own money this month. We lost even more of yours. We feel bad about losing our own money. We feel much worse about losing your money.