In July of 2006, Fairfax Financial Holdings (NYSE: FFH) filed a lawsuit alleging stock manipulation on the parts of several hedge funds, contract hedge fund operatives, and John Gwynn, an analyst with stock brokerage Morgan Keegan & Co.
The complaint is very enlightening and detailed in its claims, which can be broadly summarized as follows: certain hedge funds, which stood to profit by scuttling Fairfax’s stock price, illegally conspired and acted to do as much.
More specifically, the complaint says:
As a result of [S.A.C. Capital]’s frequent communications with Morgan Keegan and Gwynn, S.A.C. learns when Gwynn intends to issue reports and what they will say and, indeed, frequently directs Gwynn on when to issue reports and what to say. (p.14)
Also like S .A.C., Exis is a significant client of Morgan Keegan and has substantial influence over Gwynn, with whom Exis also collaborates closely. (p.15)
…[convicted hedge fund operative Spyro Contogouris] orchestrat[ed] negative analyst coverage — particularly through Gwynn… (p.18)
Gwynn collaborated with certain hedge funds, including Enterprise member Trinity Capital, in developing extreme criticisms of Fairfax to support both short-term and long-term shorting strategies dubbed “the Fairfax Project.” Gwynn communicated these developed criticisms and his intention to release a highly negative report containing those criticisms in a series of road show presentations to major hedge funds including, among others S.A.C., Lone Pine, Kynikos, Highfields, Greenlight Capital, and Perry Capital . The hedge funds participating in this discussions understood at their conclusion that Gwynn intended to initiate coverage of Fairfax with an extremely critical report, they understood and contributed to the substance of the criticisms to be included in the report, and they understood that the report’s release would be timed to provide them an opportunity to establish their short positions. These critical Morgan Keegan clients also understood that once they had established a short position in Fairfax, Gwynn would continue to support that position with negative reports until they covered. This understanding was critical because the Fairfax Project contemplated short-term and longer term components, the latter of which involved enormous potential exposure to the Enterprise if the stock price increased substantially. (p.20)
The S.A.C. Defendants, Exis Defendants, Lone Pine Defendants, Rocker Defendants, Third Point Defendants and Trinity Defendants…frequently had communications and coordinated with [John Gwynn] and caused [Gwynn] to disseminate [his] reports to numerous clients, investors, journalists, and media outlets… (p.62)
Reading the complaint in full, it’s clear that Gwynn’s actions played a pivotal role in the execution of the defendant hedge funds’ manipulation efforts.
So clear, in fact, it may have contributed to Gwynn’s decision, six months later, to terminate coverage of Fairfax Financial (a fact bemoaned by Herb Greenberg, not surprisingly one of Gwynn’s biggest fans).
As expected, the suit’s many named defendants responded to the complaint with indignant denials and, in the case of John Gwynn, a countersuit filed in November of 2007, accusing Fairfax of making him “a scapegoat” for the company’s “financial, legal and accounting problems.”
Today, ten months after Gwynn’s countersuit was filed, a spokesman for Morgan Keegan told Bloomberg that Gwynn has been fired “for violation of a firm policy relating to his apparent advance disclosure of his pending research coverage of Fairfax Financial Holdings.”
In other words, Fairfax was correct about what Gwynn was doing.
Given that fact, what are the chances Fairfax was not also correct about who benefited from Gwynn’s corruption: mega hedge funds such as S.A.C. Capital, Third Point Partners, Greenlight Capital, Rocker Partners, et al?
And, supposing that aspect is true, there would appear to be quite a bit of coordination between short-selling hedge funds and shady stock research outfits.
And that sounds suspiciously like the claim Deep Capture reporter Patrick Byrne has been making, ad nauseum, for over three years.
I knew I’d like your article as soon as I read the headline. I have a different take on your closing line:
“And that sounds suspiciously like the claim Deep Capture reporter Patrick Byrne has been making, better and better with each telling, for over three years.”
Outstanding report Judd. I reviewed that lawsuit some months ago with little hope anything would be done about it. To see the wheels of justice begin to grind, though slowly, is gratifying.
Keep up the good work!
My only problem with the DeepCapture web site is that you guys don’t produce enough output! Can you step up the efforts and write more often?
I say that mostly tongue in cheek–though I would love 2 or 3 articles every day–but seriously do appreciate the hard work you guys are doing. Thank you again.
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