Ban Lifted, Steven Cohen May Soon Be Investing For Clients Again

January 8, 2018
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by Nicole Einbinder Abrams Journalism Fellow, FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism School Fellowships

Steven Cohen, the billionaire investor once known as “the hedge-fund king,” could soon be managing other people’s money again — assuming investors can look past the insider trading allegations that sunk his previous firm.

For the past two years, Cohen has been barred from managing money for clients under a 2016 agreement reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to properly supervise a former portfolio manager at his fund SAC Capital Advisors who was found guilty of insider trading.

That ban expired last week. Now, Cohen is taking steps that would allow him to once again manage outside capital.

Cohen has merged Stamford Harbor Capital, a firm he created in 2016, with his Point72 Asset Management, according to a Jan. 1 regulatory filing, and has reportedly begun reaching out to prospective investors. The combined company will operate as Point72 Asset Management.

In 2014, SAC was rebranded as Point72 and set up to manage and trade much of Cohen’s personal fortune. The rebranding came after SAC as an institution became the first major Wall Street firm in a generation to plead guilty to criminal misconduct. As part of that 2013 plea, SAC also agreed to pay a $1.8 billion fine, the largest penalty on record for an insider trading case.

Under Cohen, eight SAC employees either pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges or were found guilty at trial. The federal investigation into SAC was the focus of the FRONTLINE investigation To Catch a Trader.

Cohen himself was never charged with wrongdoing. But, as part of his 2016 agreement with the government, he will be required to have an independent monitor in place in order to resume managing outside money. During Cohen’s two-year ban, Michael Considine, a lawyer with the New York-based law firm Seward & Kissel LLP, was brought on as an independent consultant at Point72 and filed periodic reports to the SEC.

An independent monitor is one of several protections that will continue to be in place at Point72 if and when Cohen begins managing outside money again. He has hired a 50-member compliance team, according to Bloomberg, and in 2015, he brought on Kevin O’Connor, who served as Associate Attorney General of the United States from 2008 to 2009, as chief legal officer.

Neither Point72 or Considine responded to requests for comment.

Stamford Harbor Capital had been expected to manage up to $4 billion of client money, on top of Cohen’s own $10 billion-plus fortune, according to Bloomberg. SAC, once one of the country’s top-performing hedge funds, had managed up to $16 billion in its heyday.

Point72 employs over 1,150 people in eight offices across the world, according to its website, and has over $11 billion in assets under management. In a 2014 internal email sent to employees of the company, Cohen wrote, “We are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure we never go through again what we have experienced over the last few years.”

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