To participate in the hedge fund bonanza, you can manage a fund, run a fund of funds, or arrange financing for people you think can do it better. That last approach -- providing seed capital to new managers without necessarily investing in their portfolio -- is the route SkyBridge Capital has chosen with a big-name partner, Michael Dell. The rewards in this semi-obscure line of work can be big, as seed-capital providers usually end up with a cut of a hedge fund's management fee. SkyBridge Capital is a seeding firm created last year by Anthony Scaramucci, co-founder of Oscar Capital, a hedge fund acquired in 2001 by Neuberger Berman; and Andrew Klein, co-founder of Soleil Securities Group. The firm signed up its first two managers last week. Dell participates in SkyBridge's business via his MSD Capital, which is to say, with his own money. With more than $10 billion under management, the eight-year-old MSD is not a rookie player in hedge fund investing. MSD is run by Glenn Fuhrman, former head of Goldman Sachs' ( GS ) Special Investments Group, and by John Phelan, a former principal at Ed Lampert's ESL Partners. The wealth management shop has invested money with top-notch managers including ESL. A classic example of a successful seeder is Julian Robertson, founder of Tiger Management, who discovered giant talents such as Maverick Capital's Lee Ainslee or Lone Pine Capital's Stephen Mandel, the so called "Tiger cubs" who used to work with him. More modern types include FrontPoint Partners, said to be a potential acquisition target for Morgan Stanley ( MS), and Paloma Partners, whose back-office operations have recently been acquired by JP Morgan ( JPM - Get Report). The fact that big investment banks eye these operations shows that they are a growing and significant part of the hedge fund landscape.
Pirate has been an investor in GenCorp since August 2004, but the activism really took off last fall. On Oct. 28, the hedge fund requested to declassify the board, and on Jan. 13, it sent a letter notifying the company of its intent to nominate three of its candidates as directors. GenCorp wrote back announcing its plan to oppose declassification. The stock more than doubled in price since the announcement of Terry Hall's appointment on Nov. 19, 2003, from $9.68 to $19.26 on Friday close. But so far, the agitation has not provided much support for the stock. In fact, it's down 32% from Oct. 28, when Pirate began its campaign. A spokeswoman at GenCorp declined to comment. A call to Pirate was not returned. Pirate is currently engaged in another activist battle against Angelica ( AGL), a company that provides laundry services for hospitals, clinics and other long-term care facilities. It has a 10.65% stake in the company and has joined forces with Steel Partner, another activist, to push for board changes.