Paulson Merger Funds On Track In First Quarter

Paulson Merger Funds On Track In First Quarter

Amid the highest global merger and acquisition quarterly activity in five years, the Paulson Merger Funds low volatility arbitrage strategy returned near 2% in the first quarter of 2014.

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After a strong start to the year, gains near 3.7% returns and near 7.4% in the enhanced funds in February were nearly taken back in March.  Spreads upon which the arbitrage strategy depend remained tight in the first quarter, the report noted, averaging 3% to 6% “with little perceived risk,” an investor letter reviewed by ValueWalk said.

The portfolio de-emphasized low yield simple spreads, focusing instead on complex deal structures, competitive bids, hostile takeovers, spin-offs, accretive acquires, liquidations, exchange offers and pre-announced deals.  “This approach should enable us to obtain higher returns than those available from spreads alone,” the letter said.  “Having this broad toolkit and knowing how to implement it has typically permitted us to deliver above average investment returns consistently through different market cycles, including the current low interest rate environment.”

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Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD) is an example of a complex spread that returned above average returns when compared to a “plain vanilla spread deal.”  Last September, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) agreed to pay $130 billion to purchase Vodafone Group Plc (NASDAQ:VOD) (LON:VOD)’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless, for example.  Vodafone received $59 billion in cash and $60 billion in Verizon stock along with $11 billion an additional consideration. The transaction, with closed in February of 2014, returned cash to shareholders and generated a 29% return for the fund, the letter noted.

Identifying takeovers before announcement

The letter noted the fund’s positive track record at identifying takeover targets prior to public announcement of the deals.  The hedge fund investment teams have sector specific experience in industry consolidation and apply this knowledge to make investments in companies that are likely takeover targets. “While the risks in these investments are higher than the risks in announced deals, we attempt to mitigate the downside by choosing targets that trade at discounted valuations and could rise even if no takeover occurs,” the letter said, pointing to a higher risk reward ratio than the funds other strategies.  Included in the fund’s wheelhouse of activity are takeover targets Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE:TMO).

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Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)
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