View Full Version : The Need for One International Disclosure Law for All

01-11-2008, 08:37 AM
Who would have thought that short sellers could lose everything during a capitulation phase of a bear market.
This event will go down in History for many people within the general population as a fantastic job well done to stick the knife into these speculators who feed of the misery of others..........however although most are applauding Porsche for it's covert operation to nuke the so-called Locusts it does show the inefficiencies of lack of common disclosure laws between Countries.

It could be best shown with an example, ....would Porsche get away with this type of action if the reverse happened such as convert operation to screw shareholders investing long?

Should Porsche be allowed to get away with this? (They say it is all legal)

If Porsche is allowed to get away with this, will it become a predicent and open for the unscrupulous and corrupt company takeover predators to follow in Porsche's footsteps?

Will Authorities quickly plug this loophole?

Will the Disclosure laws need to be "one" an international disclosure law which will effectivly mean all Countries with disclosure laws already in place will have to be overhauled?

A good textbook example and a good topic for debate among budding scholars.

Porsche and VW share row: how Germany got revenge on the hedge fund 'locusts'

Gordon Rayner discovers how financial predators became the prey in the audacious multi-billion takeover of VW by Porsche

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 9:22PM GMT 29 Oct 2008

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01017/vw460_1017462c.jpg A new Volkswagen Tiguan is stored at the Autostadt distribution centre next to the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg. Porsche had quietly been adding to its 42.6 per cent stake in VW Photo: REUTERS

With its jaws gaping, poised to swallow its prey, Damien Hirst's tiger shark in formaldehyde takes pride of place in the $700 million art collection of the hedge fund manager Steven A Cohen.
Until now, it had served as a symbol of the killer instincts which made Mr Cohen and his fund SAC Capital one of the biggest predators in the world's financial markets, earning him a personal fortune estimated at $8 billion.
"I liked the whole fear factor," he said cheerily when explaining what had attracted him to the Hirst shark which he bought for $8 million four years ago.
The fear factor is something Mr Cohen, and around 100 other hedge fund managers, are experiencing, like never before, as SAC Capital and others collectively lost a staggering 24 billion with a doomed gamble on Volkswagen shares, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The biters have been well and truly bitten, and in a week full of ironies it was Porsche, manufacturer of the hedge fund managers' transport of choice, which was to blame.
While "hedgies" bet on VW shares falling because of the global economic downturn, regarded by some as "the safest play in town", Porsche had been secretly building up a 74.1 per cent stake in VW through intermediaries.
When Porsche showed its hand, it sent the VW share price rocketing and exposed the hedge funds to breathtaking losses.
"I have had hedge fund managers literally in tears on the phone," said one London-based analyst yesterday. Others likened the Porsche disclosure to a "nuclear bomb going off in our faces", describing the resulting losses as "a bloodbath".
For many impartial observers, the biggest single loss in the history of hedge funds will be nothing less than just desserts for the "vulture capitalists" who were blamed, perhaps unfairly, for helping bring about the demise of HBOS through their controversial practice of short selling.
Together with Connecticut-based Mr Cohen, who recently shrugged off a $100,000 restoration of the Hirst shark as an "inconsequential" expense, this week's losers include David Einhorn, the poker-playing president of the American fund Greenlight Capital, who helped drive down the value of Lehman Brothers shares before the investment bank collapsed this summer.
In London, Odey Asset Management, managed by Crispin Odey, who paid himself 28 million this year, also took a substantial hit.
Many fund managers believe they are victims of a stitch-up orchestrated by the German government and Porsche.
The German establishment has never tried to hide its contempt for them, with a leading politician referring to hedge fund managers as "locusts". One trader went as far as describing this week's events as "payback".
Certainly, Porsche's secretive empire-building would have been illegal in the UK, which has much stricter rules on disclosure. But do the fund managers have a case?
The root of the hedge funds' demise lies, appropriately perhaps, in the murky practice of short selling, in which traders seek to make huge sums by betting on the share price of a company falling.
Traders agree to sell shares in a company (in this case VW) to a third party at a fixed price and by a certain date, then wait for the price to fall before buying the shares and handing them on to the third party.
The difference between the agreed sale price and the price at which the trader buys the shares is profit. But if the share goes up, traders are exposed to potentially limitless losses.
Shorting in financial shares has been temporarily banned, but it remains legal in other sectors of the market.
Hedge funds believed they were on safe ground by short selling VW shares, which they saw as overvalued when all car manufacturers are feeling the squeeze.
What none of them knew was that Porsche had quietly been adding to its 42.6 per cent stake in VW by taking out options to buy VW shares owned by a number of German banks.
Germany's somewhat eclectic financial regulations did not require Porsche to disclose this, and so none of the hedge fund managers had a clue what Porsche was up to.
That all changed with spectacular consequences when the sports car manufacturer suddenly issued an announcement, in German, just after 3pm on Sunday declaring that it either owned or had the option to own 74.1 per cent of VW.
With the state of Lower Saxony owning another 20.1 per cent, this meant that just 5.8 per cent of VW shares were available to buy.
But hedge fund managers had promised to sell to third parties a total of 12 per cent of VW's shares, and 12 into 5.8 doesn't go.
One London-based fund manager saw the news when he flicked through financial websites on his BlackBerry during a Sunday afternoon walk.
"I ran like a madman back to my house," he said. "I assumed the numbers were wrong. I called my broker and couldn't get through.
"But when I finally did speak to him, and he told me he'd had a dozen panicked calls already, I knew it was true."
Across the capital, and in financial centres across the world, brokers rushed to their offices to work out just how big a hit their clients were about to take.
Throughout Sunday afternoon, their phones rang off the hook as traders called them begging for help, undisguised panic in their voices.
Hours before the markets opened here on Monday morning, hedge fund offices in "hedge fund alley'' in Mayfair were already buzzing with activity as traders went through the numbers over and over again, unable to do anything more meaningful until the German stock exchange opened at 8am.
"We knew there would be a bloodbath as soon as the market opened," said the trader. "We knew the price would rocket, widening the exposure of lots of hedge funds they would be offering their daughters in return for the stock, just to get out of it."
The scramble for shares meant that shareholders could name their price, and VW stock went from 210 euros to more than 1,000 euros in two days, making VW, at one point on Tuesday, the world's most valuable company at 240 billion.
Meanwhile, the fund managers who hadn't managed to buy enough shares to settle their accounts watched with horror as their losses spiralled out of control. Some of the bigger funds are thought to have lost as much as 4 billion.
And as the price of those precious shares quadrupled, Porsche made a paper profit of more than 100 billion, dwarfing the money it makes from selling cars.
Across the world, traders raged at what they saw as a thinly disguised sting operation by Porsche and the German financial establishment. In almost any other country, Porsche would have been forced to declare its hand, rather than secretly building up share options through third parties. The hedge funds are demanding an investigation.
Christian Strenger, a board member of Germany's biggest fund manager DWS, said the German government needed to address the "untransparent" regulations, while Mike Warburton, an analyst at the City firm Sanford Bernstein, described the situation as "arguably an embarrassment for all European capital markets".
Bafin, Germany's financial regulator, insists no rules have been broken.
So should we lose any sleep over the fact that hedge funds have lost their shirts, or should we all indulge in a spot of schadenfreude? The answer, as we should know after months of financial turmoil, is that we are all, ultimately, likely to be losers.
Hedge funds will have to sell shares in other companies to make up for their losses on VW, which is likely to drive down those shares and contribute to the continuing turmoil on the stock market, further damaging the value of pension funds.
Several banks which are thought to have acted as counterparties to Porsche, in effect placing "covering bets" in case VW's share price went down, will also be losers.
Rumours about such exposure led to a 17.5 per cent drop in Societe Generale shares at one point on Tuesday, while Morgan Stanley was down 11 per cent and Goldman Sachs down by 8 per cent.
After a month in which Gordon Brown and other political leaders have called for an overhaul of global financial regulation, the Porsche affair has rammed home the point that, now as never before, the world needs a new financial policeman to make sure everyone plays by the same rules.

02-11-2008, 08:40 AM
fascinating story hoop.

for some reason this old classic springs to mind.

03-11-2008, 11:35 AM

15-11-2008, 11:22 AM
Thats a reat story Hoop and all in all I cant help but think haha good job but no doubt many less deserving will get burned before its over.