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Dan joined FT Alphaville in September 2013, after stints on Lex and as the FT’s Investment Correspondent in New York where he wrote about hedge funds, asset management and markets.

Before that Dan worked briefly at the Investors Chronicle, and has at one point or another carried furniture, sold kids books on doorsteps, and painted but not really decorated.

He also spent four years loitering in Citigroup’s equity research department where he picked up a few ideas about the value of luck, timing and a catchy pitch.

Dan likes interesting charts, short sellers and descriptive triplets. He wants to know more about Europe’s banks, thinks the bond markets are going to be a lot of fun, and finds the whole idea of active fund management mildly amusing.

Send him ideas or even call him up, he’ll write about almost anything (except gold).


Contact Dan McCrum

Imminent collapse of gigantic fraud promised (by short seller)

Bill Ackman, who will be making a new Herbalife presentation on Tuesday at 10am EST in New York, has given CNBC a small taste in advance. Well, by taste we mean he predicts ithe company’s rapid and imminent exposure as a fraud.

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One in four lose some more

The cover of FTfm features some tough Monday morning reading for professionals paid to help investors pick hedge funds:

Roughly a quarter of all hedge funds tracked by Preqin have posted negative returns year to date, though the industry is up 3.2 per cent overall.


One in four is pretty bad for an industry with aspirations to asset class status, when the world has largely been calm and markets positive. Indeed, hedge fund managers are braced for their worst year since 2008. Read more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Liberty Global buys ITV stake || Carrefour sales rise || Russian stocks down on sanctions || ECB post-AQR cash raising window will be brief for banks || Sports Direct profits up || Stocks down, bonds up  Read more

On the subject of massive empire building, carmaker edition [Update]

Set the scepticism dial to 10 — on the basis that memories of German carmaker buying Chrysler is the sort of thing to make car executives wake up in a cold sweat. However Fiat shares were up more than 4 per cent at pixel time for a reason…

That reason is a story in the German manager magazin which reports major shareholders are in conversation about a potential takeover of Fiat by VW, with Chrysler the key to solving VW’s US problems.

Der Volkswagen-Konzern steht vor dem nächsten großen Coup. Auf Großaktionärsebene finden bereits Gespräche über eine Übernahme von Fiat statt. In einer Integration von Chrysler sieht Volkswagen einen möglichen Lösungsansatz für die eigenen US-Probleme.

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How to build an empire, the full Murdoch timeline

Step one, inherit.

Keith Rupert Murdoch, second of four children, was born in Melbourne, Australia on March 11, 1931. In 1953, after graduating from Worcester college, Oxford, he assumed control of News Ltd — left to him by his father. Adelaide News was the main asset, and he took control of the Sunday Times in Perth, developing the sensationalist style now seen in many Murdoch papers.

Step two, start hunting with ruthless and patience persistence.

The following is an updated version of a timeline the FT published back in 2007, and we’ll also put a helpful list of News Corp’s biggest deals at the bottom. Read more

Time Warner rejects

Statement here, and it is more than boilerplate.

The Board is confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.

Superior to a 25 per cent premium? Also note the reference to the Murdoch factor — control of the group by the closely-held voting shares of Fox (our emphasis): Read more

Fox confirms

21st Century Fox can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.

Statement here. It may be worth revisiting the implacable tactics used by Rupert Murdoch in the pursuit of his last big trophy, as described by that prizeRead more

African Minerals: Dermot Coughlan resigns

African Minerals Limited (AIM: AMI) announces that Dermot Coughlan, one of its independent non-executive directors, has advised the Company of his resignation with immediate effect.

Dermot has been an independent director of the Company since 2010 and the Company notes his contribution during that time which saw the rapid progression of the Company’s Tonkolili project through exploration, development, construction and into operations.

The announcement follows our July 2 story, A related party at African Minerals, which reported that the miner had made large payments for warranty breaches to a company in which Hong Kong financial disclosures indicate non-executive director Dermot Coughlan and his son Craig Coughlan hold a financial interest. Read more

Yellen Testimony

Ahead of her semi-annual testimony to Congress, Janet Yellen’s prepared remarks have been posted. Click for the full thoughts of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve board of Governors on the economy, monetary policy, and financial stability.

A bear retires, unbowed and growling

The final report from Smithers & Co has landed, as the septuagenarian scourge of “stockbroker economics” eases into retirement.

We are assured that he’ll still be blogging for the FT, but the regular research output will cease. The valedictory note is, as you might expect, on the bearish side of things:

The US equity market is overvalued to an extent only experienced five times before in the past 212 years. On two occasions, however, it has risen well above the current degree of overvaluation.

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That’s it, there is now an app for everything

Judging by the amount of time it took to register and start playing, downloads may be a counter-indicator of investment banker business. But in a world where everything is gameified

“Buy. Sell. Merge. Master…” Read more

Markets Live scratched – some alternative light reading

Paul is still ill, we’re afraid, and Bryce is on safari in Uzbekistan (we think), so no Markets Live again today. Sorry.

Instead, perhaps the FX Benchmark Consultative Document might be of interest. (Click for the full thing, with thanks to the RBA’s Guy Debelle who along with Paul Fisher of the BoE did much of the heavy lifting)

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Credit vs equity vs bonds vs history vs the unknown

If we told you that stocks were cheap relative to corporate bonds, would that make you think equities are attractive or that credit is really something to avoid?

We ask because Barclays provide a long term update to a well worn chart of the yield on stocks versus bonds, in this case the US version: Read more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

US defeat at WTO || UK cabinet shake up || Korean Won drops || Canaries drilling near approval || Microsoft to cut jobs || Markets calm ahead of Yellen testimony Read more

Feeling the WIP and recognising the law at Quindell

On Friday we explained how Quindell sees the market for industrial deafness claims as a big source of growth. What that also highlights is how the group is now in very large part a listed law firm.

That characterisation matters not just because it is different to the way Quindell described itself in its trading statement on Monday, as “a leading provider of software, consultancy and technology enabled outsourcing”. It matters due to the way revenues and profits are accounted for at law firms.

The key aspect to understand here is something called “work in progress”. As a law firm works for a client on a case for which it expects at some point to get paid, when does it recognise those fees? Read more

Quindell trading update

Quindell Plc (AIM: QPP.L), a leading provider of software, consultancy and technology enabled outsourcing in its key markets, being Insurance, Telecommunications and their related sectors is pleased to provide a pre-close statement and trading update for the six months ended 30 June 2014.

More on the numbers in a moment, but a new non-executive director arrives as well, David Currie, former head of investment banking for Investec. Read more

Deaf ears at Quindell

There is a bull case for Quindell, the country club which founder Rob Terry has turned into a full service legal and technological insurance conglomerate: the deaf.

Claims for industrial deafness, it was explained at a recent investor teach-in, are the next big growth area for legal services. Perhaps it is, although some might be surprised to discover that a company billed as “a provider of sector leading expertise in Software, Consulting and Technology Enabled Outsourcing” expects to make big profits from personal injury suits. Read more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Banco Espirito Santo says solvency not at risk || Reynolds and Lorillard close to merger || UK Construction dips || Total warns of gas shortages || Friends life sells wealth unit to Blackstone || Markets rebound Read more

Temper tantrum, tempest, or teapot?

Banco Espirito Santo, the Portugese lender which had a few problems earlier this week to do with its complicated corporate structure and then saw its shares temporarily suspended on Thursday, has become this week’s goat on which all scapes may be laid.

Perhaps it is the summer quiet, but a sample of our inbox detects some caprine hitching. Read more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Friday,

- Understanding the Caliphate.

- Nonsense on toast might actually happen.

- 75bn downloads and counting. Read more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Hays reports UK recruitment growth || Japan machinery orders fall || Mothercare appoints chief executive || Creditors fret about Espirito Santo || Stocks down  Read more

Too many professional pessimists?

Some 231 pages of macroeconomic goodness has landed from the ECB. Click for the full July bulletin.

We turned straight to page 50, and the examination of predictions for economic recovery after recessions.

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Further reading

Elsewhere on Thursday,

- “Preserving financial stability is truly a Herculean task

- Every conversation, every webpage must be tracked. It’s an emergency,

- Searching for a theory of searchRead more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Widodo declares victory in Indonesia || Security theatre spreads to more airports || UK retailers say prices falling || House prices stabilise || Attacks on Gaza intensify || AbbVie forced to retract claims of support || Portugal bonds drop || Selling momentum for stocks fades Read more

Pre-zombie update: slow, steady and hungry they march

First-half performance numbers for the hedge fund industry as collated by HFR have arrived. Three up months and three down months leave the industry delivering after-fee gains to investors of 3.2 per cent, on average.

This first half performance is in line with 1H13 gain of +3.2 per cent, though hedge funds posted gains in only three of six months in 2014 in contrast to gains in five months in 1H13. The HFRI Fund of Funds Composite Index was up +0.9 per cent in June, concluding 1H14 with a gain of +2.0 percent but trailing the gain of +3.4 percent for the same period in 2013. Read more

Quindell and legal profitability

At the heart of the debate around Quindell, since it came under attack from Gotham Research, are a few simple questions. How was the Aim listed business built; are there inconsistencies in the accounts; and where does the group really make its money?

In pursuit of answers there are the accounts and presentations the company has published. There is the dossier from Daniel Yu’s short selling outfit Gotham Research. And there is the company’s long rebuttal.

We’re going to have a look at them and, in an attempt to work out what is going on, pick out some of the details where further clarity and context might be helpful.

First up: Legal ServicesRead more

Further reading

Elsewhere on Wednesday,

- Ferociously curious, mathematician, billionaire

- Through here is our show family, they don’t come with the house.

- ADHD does not an entrepreneur makeRead more

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Overcapacity a problem for Air France-KLM || India to rebuild rail with FDI || Samsung profits fall || European stock issuance above US || Philips shakes up healthcare || Israel strikes Gaza || Sterling down Read more

Further Reading

Elsewhere on Tuesday,

- The incredible shrinking insider trading case.

- Education and the American Dream, not so much for the poor.

- Peak kickstarter, crowdfunding and the potato salad corollary. Read more

Dear people of Spain,

Gotham City Research, after besting Gowex in a mere week, has decided to thank the Spanish people for their support, and address investors, doubters, haters and indeed all those who care about short selling and fraud. While quoting, of course, Batman:

It is not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us. Read more