Kyle Bass

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Kyle Bass
Born (1969-09-07) September 7, 1969 (age 52)
NationalityAmerican
Alma materTexas Christian University (B.B.A.)
OccupationFounder & Chief Investment Officer,
Hayman Capital Management; Chief Information Officer at Bahama Kid[1]

J. Kyle Bass (born September 7, 1969) is an American investor and founder of Conservation Equity Management (CEM), a TX-based private equity firm focused on environmental sustainability. [2] He is also the founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management, L.P., a Dallas-based hedge fund on global events. [3]

In 2008, Bass successfully predicted and effectively bet against the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis by purchasing credit default swaps on subprime securities which, in turn, increased in value when the real estate bubble burst.[4]

Despite his early success in predicting subprime mortgages, he has received criticism for subsequent poor performance of investments.[5] Bass has made prominent bets based on predictions of debt crisis in Japan and European sovereign debt, and shorted the Chinese yuan premised on a predicted collapse in the Chinese banking system. His fund has also challenged patents held by drug companies and shorted their stocks. The drug patent challenge campaign fizzled after several legal setbacks.[6] His Japanese and European strategies have not been major successes and the Chinese yuan short led to severe losses for his fund in 2017.[7][8][9]

On June 14, 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bass is facing regulatory scrutiny from SEC investigators for potential market manipulation—an issue that appears to stem from a controversial trade, executed in late-2015, in which Bass' fund built a short position against the stock price of a publicly traded REIT, then accused the REIT of being a Ponzi scheme.[10] Bass and Hayman Capital were subsequently sued by the executives of the REIT and the case is currently in the discovery phase of state court proceedings.[11]

Bass is known as a staunch rhetorical critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its policies.[12] However, financial reports filed with the SEC show that he has accepted substantial investment capital in two of his investment funds from at least one technology company headquartered in China.[13][14]

In 2015, Bass was recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Global Patent Market as named by Intellectual Asset Management magazine and in 2017, Bass was recognized as one of the Top 50 Key Influencers in the life sciences by Life Sciences Intellectual Property. Bass was the recipient of the 2019 Foreign Policy Association Medal for his responsible internationalism.[15] Bass is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).[16] He is also a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger (China).[17] Furthermore, Bass also serves on the Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation Board of Directors.[18] Bass is on the Board of Trustees of the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation (TWAF).[19]

Early life and education[edit]

Bass was born on September 7, 1969, in Miami, Florida, where his father managed the Fontainebleau Hotel. His father later moved the family to Dallas, Texas where he managed the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau.[20] Bass attended Texas Christian University on an academic and Division I diving scholarship. Among other accomplishments, Bass was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at Texas Christian University from 1989 to 1991.[21][22][23][24] In 1992, Bass graduated with honors, earning a B.B.A. in finance with a concentration in real estate.[25]

Bass started mixing with the hedge fund set during the 1990s and worked as a stockbroker in the Dallas office of Bear Stearns. During this time, he pitched ideas to a group of short-sellers. Bass identified stocks that appeared to be overvalued or fraudulent from East Germany shipyards to Texas mortgage lenders. Once he had enough to launch his fund, he started with reputation-making bets against subprime mortgage. [26]

Career[edit]

Before founding Hayman Capital Management in 2005, Bass briefly worked at Prudential Securities from 1992 to 1994 before joining Bear Stearns in 1994.[27] At Bear Stearns, he rose through the ranks rapidly, becoming a senior managing director at the age of 28 – among the youngest in the firm's history to carry such a title.[4][25]

In 2001, he joined Legg Mason, signing a five-year deal to form the firm's first institutional equity office in Texas. Bass told his hiring managers, "In five years and one day, I [will] be launching my own firm."[27] While at Legg Mason, Bass advised hedge funds and other institutional clients on special situation investment strategies.[4]

In December 2005, when Legg Mason sold the portion of the business where he worked, Bass left Legg Mason and started Hayman Capital Management to serve as the investment manager to a "global special situations" hedge fund that he planned to launch. Bass launched Hayman Capital Management, L.P., with $33 million in assets under management – $5 million he had saved on his own and the balance he had raised from outside investors.[27] Shortly after launching the hedge fund in February 2006, Bass became convinced that there was a residential real estate bubble in the United States, one of the few investors to successfully predict and benefit from the subprime mortgage crisis, bringing him fame in the financial services industry.

In 2007, Bass testified as an expert witness before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. During his testimony, he addressed: i) the role of credit rating agencies in the structured finance market and ii) policy measures that could be taken to minimize inherent conflicts of interest between rating agencies and issuers.[28]

In 2010, Bass testified before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. During his testimony, he addressed his analysis of the factors that caused the crisis.

After enjoying success in predicting the subprime mortgage crisis and moderate success with debt in Greece and Japan, Bass made a string of poor bets, leading to a dramatic downsizing of his fund. In April 2014, Bass was among a very few defenders of GM for its failure to address a defect tied to 13 deaths. Hayman at the time owned eight million shares of GM, making it Hayman's single biggest holding.[29] Coming to the defense of GM, Bass said on CNBC that of the 13 passengers who had died owing to the defect, 12 "either weren’t wearing their seat belt or were under the influence of alcohol."[30] In a late 2014 interview, Bass admitted that it had been "a tough year" for Hayman partially due to owning many GM stock, which was the fund's biggest position in 2014.[31] Bass called 2015 one of his fund's worst years.[32] By early 2019, Hayman had $423.6 million in discretionary assets under management, down from $2.3 billion at the end of 2014.[33]

From August 2010 to May 2019, Bass was a member of the Board of Directors of the University of Texas/Texas A&M Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), an endowment fund for Texas public universities.[34][35]

Fund performance[edit]

The flagship fund had a successful year in 2007 and gained 212% based on the subprime mortgage meltdown bet that brought fame to Bass. The fund also gained 16% in 2012 based on Greek debt bets. The long-term performance of Hayman Captal's flagship fund is described by the New York Post as "small caliber." From 2008 to mid-2015, the flagship fund experienced a modest annualized performance of 1.56%. Apart from predicting the housing bust in 2007, Kyle called Greece's economic woes and the devaluation of the Japanese yen a few years later.[36] Bass is known for making the winning bet on the Subprime mortgage crisis He later profited from the call that the Japanese yen would fall with a projected round of monetary stimulus by the Bank of Japan.[37]

Bass' first Asia-focused fund was the Japan Macro Opportunities Fund. This fund returned capital to investors after the Japanese yen depreciated 40% from 2012 to 2015. In 2016, he had a knockout with Hayman Capital's Master Fund finishing the year with an estimated net performance of 24.83%. Since Hayman's inception in 2006, the fund has returned 436.75% and an annualized return of 16.7%.[38] Between 2006 and the start of 2017, Hayman delivered an annual return of 16.5% over 11 years. By contrast, the stock market returned 9.4% a year during the same period.[39]

According to investors, his hedge fund has averaged after-fee returns of 25 per cent a year since 2006.[40] He earned a return of more than 500 percent shorting the subprime mortgage market in 2007 and profited from a wager against Greek bonds.[41] Bass has also predicted Greece's economic woes and the devaluation of the Japanese yen.[42]

Investment positions[edit]

Subprime mortgages[edit]

Bass first began formulating his subprime strategy after he met with an investment banker from New York while attending a wedding in Spain. They discussed how and why the Subprime Mezzanine CDO business existed.[43][44] After returning to the US, Bass hired several private investigators to determine the ease of obtaining a mortgage. Bass spent a significant amount of time studying the residential mortgage market and performed research to identify which residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS) composed of low-quality mortgages were most likely to default. This investment thesis was expressed by purchasing credit default swaps against the securitizations he deemed to be most unstable, which essentially was a manner of shorting the bonds using synthetic instruments. After purchasing the positions for his flagship fund in 2006, Bass raised additional capital for a special fund dedicated exclusively to capitalizing on the opportunity that existed in the market place. Bass managed or advised over $4 billion of positions in subprime RMBS.

In December 2007, after a wave of foreclosures had swept across the US, Bass was featured on Bloomberg TV as making a fortune betting against these subprime securities.[45] By forecasting the mortgage market crash, he parlayed $110 million into $700 million alongside his two Subprime Credit Strategies Funds.[46]

Europe and Japanese debt "doomsday"[edit]

After the subprime debt crisis occurred, Bass decided that it was the symptom of a more significant problem with debt and made predictions about debt "doomsday" in Europe and Japan. In 2009 he warned about the possibility of defaults by major countries over the next 3 years.[47] As of 2010, 10-15% of his portfolio was involved in bets against European and Japanese sovereign debts.[48] He went as far as predicting that 2012 would be a "doomsday year" for Europe and spoke of a looming breakup of the Eurozone, which, he declared, would lead to defaults in Japan and the United States. He stated in June 2012, "Europe goes first, then Japan and finally the United States."[49]

Since 2012, Bass has also predicted a "full blown crisis" in Japan describing its approach to financing debt as a Ponzi scheme similar to Bernie Madoff's investment scam. Though many experts have disagreed with his analysis.[50][51] Renren, Inc., a Chinese company headquartered in the Chaoyang District, Beijing, China invested $80 million in Hayman's Japan Macro Opportunities Offshore Partners, LP, a Cayman Islands exempted limited partnership, between November 2011 and January 2014.[52] Renren reported that it received capital distributions of $84.0 million and $69.1 million in the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2015, respectively, and disposed of the investment on August 24, 2015.[52]

The Chinese company's investment in Hayman's Japan Macro Opportunities Offshore Partners, LP, required Renren to include the Japan Macro Opportunities Master Fund, LP, audited financials with its Form 20-F filed with the United States Securities & Exchange Commission.[52] The Chinese company included the financials of Hayman's Japan Macro Offshore Partner, LP,[52] as Renren “can exercise significant influence, but not control…”[53]

Cullen Roche criticized Bass's Japan analysis in August 2010, noting that Bass comparing Japan to the EU was an error, since their monetary systems are wildly different. Roche stated "people still fail to understand that a nation with monetary sovereignty that is the supplier of currency in a floating exchange rate system never has a problem funding itself."[54] In May 2012, Business Insider agreed, faulting Bass's analysis, since debt-to-GDP ratios do not reflect the interest rate or credit risk of a nation. The Business Insider noted that in a nation that borrows its own currency, public spending finances borrowing.[55] However, Bass reported in his 2016 Investor Letter, that the Japan Macro Opportunities Fund performed well, stating "Our first Asia-focused fund, the Japan Macro Opportunities Fund, successfully returned capital to investors after the Japanese yen had depreciated approximately 40% from 2012-2015."[56]

Bass has been vocal in public appearances about future calamities stemming from financial meltdown. September 14, 2011, Bass maintained on CNBC that Greece's only way out of its debt mess was a restructuring. Bass noted that despite the strife it would bring to Greece, it was the only measure the nation could take. He added that within a year all of Europe would be in default as well.[57] In a speech reported on January 1, 2014, he assured the audience of his confidence that the next few years would be rife with turmoil, including the eruption of major wars. In his speech, he claimed that with the growing debt and inability to pay it off, eventually social unrest will lead to violent outbreaks. Bass finished his speech stating, "War is coming – just as it has throughout history."[58]Bass’ eerie prediction of war on the European continent turned out to be spot-on.  

Chinese banking collapse[edit]

Starting in July 2015, Bass made a multiyear bet against the Chinese yuan based on a predicted banking collapse in China.[59] Bass closed out his position against the Chinese currency in early 2019 when the predicted devaluation of the currency did not occur.[59]

Bass argued in 2015 that the Chinese banking system was undercapitalized and its foreign reserves would be insufficient in a crisis. Bass predicted a hard landing for the Chinese economy following a bank crisis and a severe devaluation of the Chinese currency, variously given as "somewhere between 15%-20%" and "30 to 40 percent."[60][61]

Hayman suffered its worst year in 2017 with a loss of 19% due to the strengthening of the Chinese yuan.[36]

US Equities[edit]

Despite his macro focus, his fund has reported significant equity positions in two companies, Eco-Stim Energy Solutions and NMI Holdings.[62]

Drug patent challenge campaign[edit]

Bass has attempted to profit from filing and publicizing patent challenges against pharmaceutical companies while also betting against their shares.[63][64] In 2014, Renren, Inc., a Chinese company headquartered in the Chaoyang District, Beijing, China invested $30 million in Bass' pharmaceutical strategy through Hayman Credes Offshore Fund, LP, registered as a Cayman Islands exempted limited partnership and claiming Hayman Offshore Management as its General Partner.[52] Renren reported Hayman Credes Offshore Fund, LP in its SEC filings from 2014 through April 2016 as a principal component of the company's "long-term investments" portfolio.[65]

Through its investment in Hayman Credes Offshore Fund, LP, the Chinese company appears to have participated in Bass' challenges of numerous U.S. drugs patents reportedly aimed at driving down the price of U.S. drug company stocks.[63][64]

In its form, 20-F, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for its fiscal year, ended December 31, 2016, Renren Inc. reported, "In December 2014, the Company invested $30,000 in Hayman which is a Cayman Islands exempted limited partnership and served as a limited partner. The Company recognized its share of loss of $322 and $157 for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2016, respectively. From February to April 2016, the Company withdrew all of its investment in Hayman and received total proceeds of $29,521."[65] After 2 years of setbacks in his effort, Bass by 2017 ended his patent challenges.[6]

In 2015, Bass organized the Coalition For Affordable Drugs (CFAD) to use the inter partes review (IPR) process to challenge patent validity.[66][67] When he initiated this practice in January 2015, he claimed that his motive was to encourage competition in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and thus bring down prices.[68]

Bass filed a total of 35 patent challenges, in collaboration with Erich Spangenberg who has been called “the world's most notorious patent troll”,[5] including 33 filed by CFAD and two filed by Bass personally on a not-for-profit basis.[69]

In June 2015, Celgene received permission from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to file a motion seeking sanctions against the CFAD for allegedly abusing the patent-review process. The Wall Street Journal noted that this development was “being closely watched because it raises the possibility that patent officials may put an end” to Bass's patent-challenge scheme. Celgene also told the patent office, through counsel, that CFAD had threatened to challenge its patents unless Celgene met CFAD's demands.[70]

In October 2016, Bass prevailed in the case, with USPTO invalidating the two Celgene Corp patents related to its cancer drugs Revlimid, Pomalyst, and Thalomid at issue.[71] However, one year later Celgene was able to convince the Patent Trial and Appeal Board to re-hear the case.[72]

Politics[edit]

Trump administration[edit]

A ProPublica story describes Bass as a friend of Tommy Hicks Jr., a private investor who was a hunting buddy to Donald Trump Jr. and had further ties to the Trump administration.[73] According to the investigative story on improper links between Hicks and the Trump administration, Hicks had obtained a meeting with Bass with high-level officials at an inter-agency meeting at the Treasury Department to air views on China.[73] This meeting was when Bass held a large short position in the Chinese currency.[73]

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner[edit]

The BBC has described Bass as having a "good relationship" with Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.[74] In February 2014, Bass said that Argentinian bonds represented a profitable opportunity and called Argentina a most "interesting" nation for investments. He was virtually alone in this assessment. The IB Times noted that the country had "cheated creditors seven times since it gained independence from Spain in 1816," most recently defaulting on its debt in 1989.[75] When the Argentine government defaulted on its debt in July 2014, Bass supported the move and criticized the bondholders, notably Elliott Management and Aurelius Capital, that, with the support of U.S. federal judge Thomas Griesa, had held out for full payment. Echoing Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, he called these creditors "vultures," said that they were "holding up 42 million people from progress," and were holding Argentina for "ransom".[76] On August 27, 2014, Bass accused Elliott's Paul Singer of "holding poor countries as hostages," prompting The New York Post to comment in an editorial the next day that Bass had "sounded more like Argentina's leftist economy minister Axel Kicillof than a US hedge-fund manager."[77]

China[edit]

On January 25, 2020 Bass falsely claimed in a Twitter post that, "A husband and wife Chinese spy team were recently removed from a Level 4 Infectious Disease facility in Canada for sending pathogens to the Wuhan facility." The "Stolen from Canadian lab" theory was widely spread and has since been disproved as COVID-19 misinformation.[78] A January 27, CBC News article said that the claim Bass made had "no factual basis".[79]

In a February 8, 2020 Twiiter post, Bass again referred to COVID-19, which is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, as the "chinese virus". Barr posted that the virus should "rampage through the ranks of the [Global Times] and the rest of the communist party".[80] Global Times' editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin, reminded Bass that GT and CCP members "are ordinary citizens, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters". While Bass refused to apologize for his comment, he deleted the tweet.[81][82]

Bass was a sponsor of the "Declaration of The New Federal State of China", launched by Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui on June 4, 2020, as part of a movement dedicated to the overthrow of the CCP as the Chinese Government.[83]

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External links[edit]