Suddenly the alternative assets world has become much more difficult. Three fund management companies, GAM, Woodford and H20, have scared the little cotton socks off investment committees, prompting an outbreak of extreme caution. These three funds all experienced difficulties when it became clear they’d been buying deeply illiquid stocks and bonds – and couldn’t sell them when the demands for money arrived.
As a result, our risk management team have been asking deep and meaningful questions about the portfolio: “Nap, just how liquid are these equity stubs in the commodity trade finance deal?” one of the bright young things asks me. I respond:
“On a scale of 1 is water and 10 is set concrete, these will be about a 12. But we knew that when we bought them. We agreed the returns fairly compensated the risk and they were money good. We live with them.”
She asks me to explain what situation would cause them to cease being money good. I respond with some thoughts about a good old-fashioned trade war where China stops buying any raw materials and the lights go out everywhere. And since that’s unlikely to happen, we hold them and take the 22% return for the next three years. This particular fund is set up to do that.