Costas Implodes

John Costas, who used to run the investment-banking division

of UBS, dealt frequently with hedge fund managers who were making vastly more

money than he was. So he decided to quit UBS and join them. UBS, in an effort

to retain him, basically allowed him to set up his hedge fund in-house. They

even allowed him to give it a storied name, Dillon Read: one of the many acquistions

that Swiss Bank made before it got swallowed by UBS. "We have the chance

to be the No. 1 alternative asset management company in the world," he


the New York Times at the time.

Or, you know, he could fall

flat on his face. It turns out that hedge funds, who often profit from others’

misfortunes, are sometimes equally capable of playing the schmuck:

Chief Executive Officer Peter Wuffli said in a statement that the hedge fund,

Dillon Read Capital Management, "did not meet our expectations."

The bank, which gave Costas control of the fund to keep him from leaving,

will now pay $300 million to shut it down after Dillon Read’s 150 million

francs of losses led to lower fixed-income revenue…

The losses at the hedge fund were "related to the U.S. mortgage-backed

securities market, which was obviously weakened by the U.S. subprime market,"

[UBS CFO] Standish said.

One wonders what the implications of the Dillon Read implosion are for Goldman

Sachs, which has pretty much exactly the same strategy, albeit with much more

success. Is there something in the water at 85 Broad Street which makes Goldman

immune from such blow-ups? Has it just been lucky? Or does it just appreciate

that good investment-bank managers don’t necessarily make great hedge-fund managers?

In any case, it’s hard to see Costas recovering from this blow. He’s made more

than enough money to live very comfortably for the rest of his life, and that’s

probably what he’s going to do. His dreams of dynastic wealth will have to fade


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