Monday, November 30, 2015

Crouching (Turn)Bull, Hidden Rabbit : On Alex ,son of Malcolm & Lucy Turnbull's Singapore hedge fund

by Ganesh Sahathevan

When Alex Turnbull's father Malcolm made himself prime minister of Australia, much was said about the family's business success and how that skill and acumen was now being put at the disposal  of the country.

Along with that adulation came some commentary on Alex's Singapore hedge fund, of which there had been some reporting in June 2014

Alex Turnbull, son of Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is planning a Singapore-based hedge fund, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Mr Turnbull, who has been an executive director of Goldman Sachs Group's special situations group, will be the chief investment officer of Keshik Capital, said the people who asked not to be identified. The fund will be focused on Asia with flexibility to invest globally. It may start as early as January and will invest in equity and credit, including convertible bonds, they said.

While all reports say Alex "founded" Keshik Capital, elsewhere others make that claim for themselves.Enter Arnab Nandi,who describes  himself as a serving  co-founder of Keshik on Linkedin, and  as Co-Chief Investment Officer (Co-CIO) in advertisements for a conference in Singapore held in February this year. 
However, Arnab, which means rabbit in Arabic and Malay, is nowhere listed on Keshik's current website. Email queries sent him have gone unanswered. If there has been a takeover, Arnab is not telling, and remains hidden. However,the more interesting story here is what drives Keshik,. The question of whether Alex was able to assume full control of the firm may be related to it,and it all comes down to funding.

Hedge funds make their money by leveraging their investments and in Singapore this means having strong lines of credit from Singapore banks. Singapore banks however are notoriously conservative and operate a closed shop. No one gets a look-in unless well connected, locally.Talent matters only when one gets in, and is otherwise irrelevant. 

Alex Turnbull is a an outsider and he having a Chinese wife makes no difference. His only relevant qualification is the fact that his father is now Prime Minister Of Australia. Money may be lent his firm on that basis, but favours in return will be expected. Australian journalists who labour under the fantasy that their leaders take vows of poverty (some believe vows of chastity as well) are likely to take offence at the mere suggestion that their beloved Prime Minister might be compromised by money, but journalists in Asia  on the other hand cannot afford to do so. 
It is only normal in Asia to ask where Alex Turnbull is getting his cash from and how he otherwise finances a business that he seems to have assumed sole control. His family is not in that category who can fund these types of ventures to any significant degree.

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