Skybridge's Scaramucci May Not Get White House Job After All

Feb 2 2017 | 11:01pm ET

Anthony Scaramucci, whose steadfast support for Donald Trump’s candidacy seemed about to net him a coveted White House position as a liaison to the business community, now appears unlikely to take up that role. 

Scaramucci came aboard Trump’s transition team following the election, and was repeatedly mentioned as a leading candidate for a Cabinet or agency post in the new administration. In preparation, Scaramucci put his company, hedge fund-of-funds specialist Skybridge Capital, up for sale in late 2016 and announced a deal only a few weeks later reportedly valued at around $180 million, according to Bloomberg. He also agreed to spin off his famous SALT Conference series to Skybridge business development executives Victor Oviedo and Kelly O’Connor.

However, conflict-of-interest concerns regarding the purchasers of Skybridge, holding company RON Transatlantic EG and a unit of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, are said to be behind the sudden change of heart. In particular, the opaque ownership structure of RON Transatlantic and HNA Group’s purported connections to China’s communist party may have dimmed Scaramucci’s candidacy for the job, which was heading up the White House Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Scaramucci had reportedly agreed to recuse himself from any matter concerning SkyBridge and HNA, but the length of time potentially required to clear him of ethics concerns, as well as the overall optics of the deal given President Trump's positions on China, may have been enough to torpedo the idea. 

The New York Times initially broke the story on Wednesday, while Reuters, citing unidentified officials in the administration, reported on Thursday that Scaramucci was told by chief of staff Reince Priebus and advisor Stephen Bannon that he would not be getting the liaison job. Instead, he may be offered a diplomatic post, although to which nation was not immediately clear, nor was President Trump’s personal opinion on Scaramucci’s involvement.

Also unclear at the moment is the status of the Skybridge sale, which was originally expected to close by June, or the disposition of SALT.

Scaramucci founded Skybridge, which specializes in funds of hedge funds products, custom separate account portfolios, hedge fund advisory services and has a long-only mutual fund, in 2005 after a stint at Goldman Sachs. 

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