hedge fund answers two federal probes that were prompted when a portfolio manager quit in an asset-pricing dispute, court papers reveal that the $9.1 billion fund is no stranger to a bare-knuckles legal wrangle when it comes to departing executives.
William Feingold, the former manager of Clinton's Riverside convertible arbitrage fund who departed in July, spent the next few months in a legal tug-of-war with his former employer before joining
, a Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund that is one of Clinton's biggest competitors.
Court papers reveal a fierce tussle featuring lawsuits, injunctions and countermoves, which were ultimately resolved in favor of Feingold, who was the first in a trio of unhappy Clinton employees who left Clinton between July and October. Feingold left in July and was followed by partner Seth Fischoff, once the public face of Clinton's $2.15 billion Multi-Strategy Fund.
Senior trader Anthony Barkan departed very publicly last month, releasing a statement saying he resigned in a dispute with senior management over the pricing of asset-backed bonds.
The paper wake of Feingold's departure churns up information on the normally low-profile hedge fund management company, which is already subjecting itself to scrutiny by the
Securities and Exchange Commission
, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission and auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, which the firm brought in voluntarily to examine its asset-backed portfolio pricing.
The investigations began recently, and no results have been publicized.
But documents filed in New York State court show that Clinton filed an arbitration claim against Feingold after he left the firm, seeking to enforce a noncompete provision of an employment agreement he signed in 2001.
A day after Clinton filed the arbitration case, Feingold went to New York State court seeking a court injunction to block the arbitration. New York State Supreme Court Justice Louis York recently denied the injunction request and said the matter had to be decided in arbitration.
According to the documents, Feingold quit because he'd been stripped of much of his authority to manage the Riverside fund. In court papers, he said he was no longer "permitted to commit capital" to an investment without the permission of George Hall, Clinton's founder.
Two weeks after Feingold left Clinton, he accepted a position with FrontPoint, and that's when the legal squabbling began.
In court papers, Clinton claimed the employment agreement prevented Feingold from joining an arch-rival so soon after his departure. Feingold, meanwhile, insisted that he signed the agreement under duress. He contended that his supervisors at Clinton threatened to withhold his bonus if he didn't.
Clinton also tried to enforce another provision that would prevent Feingold from contacting any of its investors for a two-year period. The hedge fund said it found that Feingold had forwarded some emails containing information about several Clinton investors to a personal email account. Feingold said he was using those emails to work on matters at home and has since destroyed them.
Feingold's attorney, Neal Brickman, said Wednesday that both the arbitration case and the attempt to block the injunction were no longer active, and he declined to comment further. Marty Klotz, a litigation partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, which represented the Clinton Group, also declined to comment.
At FrontPoint, Feingold said he could not comment on his departure.
He is jointly managing the FrontPoint Convertible Arbitrage Fund with Tom Felgner, who presided over its launch a month ago, according to a person familiar with the situation. The two men previously worked together at Lehman Brothers, where Feingold was head of U.S. convertible research and Felgner was a market maker in convertibles. Convertible arbitrage funds can generally support hundreds of millions of dollars in assets under management, and the new fund is intended to be a pillar of FrontPoint's arbitrage strategies, the person said. FrontPoint manages more than $1.5 billion.
FrontPoint was founded by so-called "Tiger Cubs" Duff and Gil Caffray, both former executives at famed fund manager Julian Robertson's Tiger Management, who joined forces with Paul Ghaffari, previously a portfolio manager with Soros Fund Management. The firm has a history of finding talent from rival firms, bringing in a trio of former SAC Capital Management executives to run a health care fund.
Chip Skowron, Jason Bonadio and A.J. Bhalla joined FrontPoint in March.
In July, FrontPoint acquired Ivory Capital Group, a Santa Monica, Calif., hedge fund manager that runs long-short equity funds with a value bias.
Senior writer Matthew Goldstein contributed to this story