decision to inject billions into a suffering fund is a big double-down bet for the firm as it tries to weather precarious times and maintain its glossy, white-shoe image.
Facing a flagging performance at a quantitative hedge fund, Global Equity Opportunities, that Goldman describes as "disappointing," the investment bank is expressing the view that the uncertainty and fear wrenching Wall Street trading is temporary.
Billionaire investor Eli Broad and former
American International Group
chief Hank Greenberg are investing about $1 billion.
Goldman told investors on a conference call that it would supply about $2 billion and underscored that its plan didn't amount to a rescue like the one provided by
, when a pair of funds affiliated with that bank slumped because of esoteric subprime investments.
Goldman also manages Global Alpha, a multistrategy hedge fund, and the North American Equity Opportunities fund, an equity long/short quantitative strategy fund, which have been faced with challenging trading markets. Both are down for the year, but Goldman says those vehicles won't require added funds since they've been delevered over the past several weeks.
In the grand scheme of Goldman's prodigious cash horde, its capital injection could be viewed as small potatoes, but its impact on other areas of its business might not be so insignificant.
Posting cash upfront to right the Global Equity Opportunities ship, which is down nearly 30%, forces the bank to redirect funds away from possibly more-profitable trading operations.
Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz points out that for every dollar that Goldman invests in its hedge fund, it is taking away about $25 from capital it can utilize in its trading business, based on how much it can leverage up its available equity.
Want more? Check out TheStreet.com TV video. Mark DeCambre discusses the multibillion-dollar injection into Goldman Sachs' Global Equity Opportunities fund.
To be sure, trading is a significant portion of Goldman's business, representing a little more than 60% of its revenue, according to its most recent filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission
At a time when the markets are swooning over credit concerns, capturing revenue from other areas outside of trading may be a challenge for the bank during the next several months. Richard Bove, an analyst at Punk Ziegel, notes that investment banking activity has been pinched due to the slowdown in credit, which has stifled mergers and acquisitions.
Fewer M&A deals for Goldman and other investment banks translates into diminished advisory fees, as well as diminished fees from financing such deals.
Esoteric structured debt, such as CLOs and CDOs, has been at the heart of the leveraged buyout and M&A boom, and the center of the credit crisis. Those financing instruments also have been a source of big business for the Goldmans of the world.
But how big of a bet the hedge fund investments prove to be for Goldman's overall business will come to bear over the next few months, when it reports its third-quarter earnings.
"Let's face it. Goldman isn't an altruistic company," Hintz notes.
"What they are really doing is making a conscious decision that
the cash injection is a better decision than trading in the market," he adds.