Last week, the world began to wake up to the fact that all of the “Chicken Littles” screaming that the sky is falling in high yield were right.
There was Third Avenue which announced it would gate investors in a $788 million mutual fund on the way to liquidating over the next several months (as though liquidity is set to return any day now in HY) and then in short order, the “venerable” Stone Lion Capital (founded by none other than Alan Jay Mintz and Gregory Augustine Hanley, both veterans of Bear Stearns distressed debt and HY trading desk) suspended redemptions after receiving “substantial requests.”
Yes, “substantial requests” or, in more colloquial terms, “rats from a sinking HY ship” and as we notedjust moments after we confirmed the Third Avenue gate news, “investors in all other junk bond-focused hedge funds, dreading that they too will be gated, will rush to pull what funds they can and submit redemption requests, in the process potentially unleashing a liquidity – and liquidation – scramble within the hedge fund community, which will first impact bonds and then, if the liquidity demands continue, equities as well.”
It’s probably more appropriate to call that a foregone conclusion than “prescient.” That is, if one depositor loses access to his demand deposits and tells a friend about it, it won’t be long before the bank run is on. Same principle here.
Sure enough, just moments ago a third domino fell as Lucidus Capital Partners, a high-yield credit fund founded in 2009 by former employees of Bruce Kovner’s Caxton Associates, has liquidated its entire portfolio and plans to return its $900 million in AUM.
Unsurprisingly, the trouble at Lucidus started in October when a “significant investor” submitted a redemption notice. Following that request, Lucidus decided “to start winding down the portfolio and shedding staff,” according to a person familiar with the fund’s operations who spoke to Bloomberg. “Shrinking trading volume in credit-default swaps and indexes in the wake of the financial crisis posed a challenge to Lucidus, whose founders sought to profit from volatile credit markets when they started the company in 2009, the person said.”