The Greatest Trade Ever

The New York Post reports that John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who paid himself $3.7bn last year after that spectacular trade shorting the subprime market, lost some ground in July - although not much. The newspaper says that Paulson's six hedge funds fell about 3.7% over the month.

The Post also reports that Wall Street Journal reporter Greg Zuckerman, who bagged an early interview with Paulson when he hit the news last year, has got a six-figure advance from Random House to write about the trade. The book, currently titled The Greatest Trade Ever, is due for release in 2010. Zuckerman's agent, David McCormick of McCormick & Williams, said: 'It's not a book about the housing crisis, it's about a trade that will be remembered on Wall Street for a long time'.

Bloomberg reports that Samuel Israel, the hedge fund manager who didn't make $3.7bn last year, but did defraud investors of $450m a few years back, was barred from entering a guilty plea to bail-jumping Wednesday. Israel, who founded hedge fund Bayou Group, was due to report to US authorities in June to begin a 20-year jail sentence for his scam. He jumped bail, however, and tried to fake his own death. Less than a month later he gave himself up to local police. A US federal judge, however, said Wednesday that Israel's addiction to methadone may have impaired his judgment, and that 'I have to be satisfied that you're competent ( to enter a plea)'. A further hearing is set for mid-September.

CNBC reports that Massachusetts' $50.6bn pension fund has fired 5 firms, including Legg Mason Capital Management, from managing a $1.8bn US equity portfolio. State Street Global Advisors has picked up the mandate to run some $1.4bn of these funds.

Reuters reports that Ladenburg Thalmann & Co analyst Richard Bove has said that Lehman Brothers could sell up to $50bn in securities to raise capital and may slash its dividend by up to 90% in order to conserve cash. Bove also said that 'the quality of the paper is believed to be significantly higher than the sale recently announced by Merrill Lynch. Therefore, the discount may be as little as 10%'. And The New York Post has reported that Lehman CEO Dick Fuld has been busy talking to various private-equity funds and foreign investors (mainly from Asia) about the possibility of raising additional capital.

Finally, the news agency reports that Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Brad Hintz has said that Merrill will have to cut its common stock dividend by 64% by 2010 in order to conserve cash to fuel growth.

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