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I bet Neil and I will be able to think of something to say.

  • Nah, I wasn’t really going to go a whole day without mentioning hedge funds. I did find a story yesterday that was interesting if you’re really into this Amaranth stuff. The magazine Institutional Investor, just two weeks ago – a week before Amaranth’s collapse – published a rather glowing and very long profile of Rocaton Investment Advisors. Rocaton is the county’s pension fund advisor – the ones who suggested investing as much as anyone in Amaranth.

Remember this article came out just before Amaranth imploded.

In the four years since its inception, Rocaton has set out to remake the pension consulting model by seeking engagements with big, sophisticated clients like 3M and the $30 billion Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System.

Both Pennsylvania and 3M – the maker of Post-It Notes – like San Diego County, lost big on Rocaton’s advice to buy Amaranth.

Here’s what Rocaton brought us:

“We do more aggressive investing than the average public pension fund, and Rocaton is partly responsible for that,” says San Diego County chief investment officer David Deutsch.

The piece has, actually, a quote from someone from Amaranth, which, a couple weeks later, is curiously unwilling to provide anyone to talk to the press. The Amaranth representative agreed with the guy from the Pennsylvania pension fund who said Rocaton had become an “expert in alternatives investing.”

Charles Winkler, chief operating officer of the Greenwich-based multistrategy firm Amaranth Advisors, agrees. “Rocaton is unique in the consulting world merely by the fact that they truly understand hedge funds,” says Winkler, whose firm has $8 billion in hedge fund assets and is also on the Rocaton buy list.

Amaranth was on Rocaton’s buy list at least until a couple of weeks ago. Nice to know, at least, that they “truly understood” the hedge funds they were telling San Diego to keep money in.

Next, a fact I hadn’t asked about yet: what the county pension pays Rocaton.

… the San Diego County Employees’ Retirement Association reported paying an annual fee of $443,000 for the fiscal year ended June 2006.

Finally, later in the story, a little tidbit about why Amaranth might have been willing to say nice things about Rocaton.

Getting on Rocaton’s buy list can be something of a bonanza for hedge fund firms like Amaranth, AQR and New York-based Ramius Capital Group.

  • Let’s see: ConVis is remaining neutral on the airport ballot measure, but it supports building a new airport?

OK. Should we call their board members now and try to figure out what that means?

Is it even worth it?

SCOTT LEWIS

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