Saturday, November 12, 2016

Carlyle Hedge Fund’s $400 Million African-Refinery Investment Disappears

From the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11:
A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund has lost the $400 million it invested last year in a Moroccan oil-refinery deal, according to a securities filing and people familiar with the matter.

The hedge fund, known as Vermillion, was to receive a share of revenue at the refinery, which ran into financial trouble and was seized by Moroccan authorities later in 2015, the people said. The refinery, known as Societe Anonyme Marocaine de l’Industrie du Raffinage, or Samir, was put into liquidation this year.

In a note in the Washington, D.C., private-equity firm’s quarterly filing last week, Carlyle said it believes $400 million in petroleum commodities were “misappropriated by third parties outside the U.S.” It didn’t identify the soured deal or name the third parties. The note, which hasn’t previously been reported on, refers to Samir, the people said.

Carlyle has spent $5 million in legal and professional fees trying to get its money back and expects the matter could lead to litigation and “significant additional costs or liabilities,” according to the filing. It has also received a redemption request from an unnamed investor as a result of the episode, additional details of which remain murky.

Carlyle expects to join a group similar to creditors committees that are formed in U.S. chapter 11 cases, the people said. But the prospects for a recovery of its investment are less clear than they would be in a U.S. bankruptcy proceeding. Other creditors include BP PLC and Glencore PLC.
The loss represents the latest misstep in Carlyle’s hedge-fund business, which has suffered declines in commodity and credit investments and investor withdrawals. Carlyle is pulling back from the business and plans to focus more on corporate lending. Co-founder William Conway said on an earnings call last month that Carlyle is decreasing its “exposure to shorter-term trading businesses, areas where, frankly, we have not performed well.” Carlyle expects to have about $1 billion of hedge-fund assets by year-end, down from $14.7 billion as of the third quarter of 2014.

Carlyle and other big private-equity firms moved into hedge funds to diversify beyond their corporate buyout businesses. Carlyle’s most-recent foray into hedge funds began in 2010. It bought a majority stake in Claren Road Asset Management, followed later by deals for Emerging Sovereign Group, or ESG, and Vermillion. It also purchased a Canadian fund of hedge-funds firm, Diversified Global Asset Management....MORE