Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Latest in the Case of Solengo vs. Sanity


A hedge fund genius caught in mid-whine

I'm surprised the press isn't having a field day with the bizarre, grotesque effort by Solengo Capital -- successor to the infamous Amaranth Advisors hedge fund -- to keep its "confidential" marketing brochure off the web by suing Dealbreaker.com.

What makes the media's neglect of this story especially curious is that the most interesting stuff is in court filings easily accessible via the web.

This story is newsworthy not just because of its First Amendment implications, but because Solengo's chief honcho is world-class money-loser Brian Hunter, who played the Captain Smith role in the Amaranth Titanic story. As FINAlternatives points out, Hunter "holds the distinction of being the only person in hedge fund history to single-handedly lose more than $6 billion dollars."

Hunter is also a first-class whiner, in addition to being a towering figure in red-ink-land.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Hunter says that "my colleagues and I are attempting to grow [Solengo] into a multibillion-dollar commodity investment vehicle." (I can already hear the murmurings of "God forbid".....)

Standing in the way of this worthy endeavor is the evil, nasty, awful Dealbreaker! "Given the sensitive nature of the information contained in the Document, as well as the fact that Solengo is still in the very early stages of development, I believe that the continued, unauthorized dissemination of the Document by DealBreaker will cause severe damages that would be difficult if not impossible to quantify."

If the above is true, publishing that marketing brochure is even more terrific than I had thought. What a service to the dumb institutional investors of the world! You really have to be a knucklehead, after all, to put your money in a fund run by a guy with that kind of track record

And I don't just mean the Amaranth disaster. This lawsuit is yet another example of sheer stupidity. By filing this suit, Solengo has drawn more attention to its super-secret marketing brochure.

However, I will say -- and tinhorn dictators the world over should give Hunter a high-five for this -- his efforts to squelch the brochure itself seem to have met with some success. The website to which I linked in this post, which had a link to the infamous brochure, has vanished, as has the link in this earlier post.

Dealbreaker itself has stopped talking about Solengo entirely, no doubt on advice of attorneys. It also agreed to a tempoary injunction stopping it from printing the brochure while the case is pending. The court is now weighing a Solengo request for a restraining order.

This cone of silence is temporary, of course, as is the absence of the brochure from the web. Money can't buy happiness, or a respite from the bad publicity Solengo richly deserves, but it can buy a nice chunk of Internet censorship for at least a short while.

UPDATE: The link with the brochure is back up.

Speaking of junk lawsuits, the mother of all frivolous, vexatious, nonsensical lawsuits that stomp on the First Amendment -- Overstock.com's "shut the f--- up" suit against Gradient Analytics -- was being heard by a California appellate court today.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wall Street Versus America was published by Penguin USA on April 6.
Click here for its Amazon.com listing and here for more information on the book, from my web site, gary-weiss.com.

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