Real Talk on Viking Global, Marissa Mayer, Kim Jong-Un and Jeff Sessions

Jun 13 2017 | 12:52pm ET

On Tuesday, we discuss Viking’s decision to return capital to investors, Marissa Mayer’s severance package, Dennis Rodman’s journey to the Hermit Kingdom, and why we’re already tired of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Hair of the Dog

Shot: Dennis Rodman is back in North Korea. Was he sent by Trump?

Chaser: “It’s nice to see Kim Jong-un making friends.” – The Onion

Quotes of the Day

Last Summer, Modern Trader took a deep dive into the compensation practices of Fortune 500 CEOs and CFOs. The primary conclusion: The CEO market for pay is one of the most irrational and illiquid markets on the planet with a limited supply and increasing demand.

So, when Marissa Mayer walked away from her tenure at Yahoo! with $23 million in her pocket today, who could be surprised, despite the failure of the company to become a reasonable competitor to Google or Microsoft.

We were surprised, actually, because in July 2016, chatter emerged that Meyer was eligible for a severance package worth up to $55 billion. At the time, Starboard Value founder Jeffrey Smith dismissed such payment as, “Just math. It’s just contractual.”

One of the more interesting parts of our dive into Yahoo! and CEO compensation was our brief conversation with Mark Cuban, the Internet billionaire who once sold his business to Yahoo! for a king’s ransom.

Cuban suggested at the 2016 SALT Conference that Yahoo’s culture was one of – if not its greatest – weaknesses. When Meyer took over the company, she faced a pretty stacked deck.

It wasn’t clear if she would be able to turnaround the company.

Now – she’s riding a Zamboni off into the sunset.

“These assets provide significant development potential for an area with limited drilling locations remaining.”

-- Kevin Hegarty, CFO of at the University of Michigan Board of Regents.

At a time that students and alumni are demanding that universities around the nation divest from oil and gas companies, the University of Michigan is wise enough to understand basic math. The University of Michigan doesn’t plan on divesting its energy holdings.

We discussed how the Boycott, Divestiture and Sanctions (BDS) movement is flawed in its economic efforts. Pension programs and school endowments simply aren’t going to give up on companies that are performing for unproven stocks and lower returns on investment.

This was an important theme of our discussion on firearms last year.

In the letter, the firm added that the decision to return $8 billion reflects a chance to “reset to a smaller size.”

Because… as you all know… running a smaller hedge fund is the dream of every manager.

Matthew Goldstein at DealBook explains that Viking Global will return roughly $8 million to investors, and its chief investment officer, Daniel Sundheim, will be stepping down.

"Gund says $100 million from that sale will go to the new Art For Justice Fund, described as a 'movement to end mass incarceration.’"

Agnes Gund has sold Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 work Masterpiece in an effort to raise money to overhaul the criminal justice system.

The price tag: $165 million. 

“A growing body of research (acknowledged by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) has shown that opiate deaths and overdoses actually decrease in states with medical marijuana laws on the books.” 

That’s proper journalism conducted at the Washington Post.

It comes on the heels of one of the most mindless attempts at policy by the new Attorney General. According to a letter sent to Congress, Jeff Sessions is asking Congress to allow him “to undo federal medical marijuana protections that have been in place since 2014.” 

Why? He’s going after pot shops because of the opioid epidemic in the United States?

If you’re scratching your head about this… keep digging. There’s a switch that will eventually turn your brain off so you don’t have to think with logic anymore.

Apparently, Sessions turned off his logic switch a long time ago.

Sessions is pushing us into another decade of the failed War on Drugs.

The old argument is that marijuana is a gateway drug.

Medicinal marijuana is a less addictive alternative to pain pills with heavy addictive qualities. How many documentaries can HBO and ESPN make on this topic?

Besides, the reality is that alcohol is the number one gateway drug… followed by Tobacco.

Of course, the last time we tried to ban booze the only positive thing to come out of it was the movie the Untouchables – a film about all of the horrible events that transpired.

Apparently, Sessions has never been to a bar in New York City.

Order one drink, and you can get just about anything you want from the staff or the patrons hovering in the shadows.

Tuesday Reading List

Reuters: Hedge funds turn bearish on U.S. natural gas: Kemp

ESPN: Andrew Barroway becomes Coyotes' sole owner

Pensions & Investments: AI key for third wave of hedge fund managers

Grab the Newsletter 

The Daily Alpha is published on Finalternatives.

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Be sure to check out the award-winning Modern Trader and a very special offer for first-time readers and follow @moderntradermag. 

You can also pick up a copy of the June Hedge Fund issue at Barnes & Noble.

Garrett Baldwin is the voice of the The Daily Alpha, the features editor for Modern Trader magazine, and the author of The Man with The Big Red Balloon. 


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