Paul Singer (businessman)

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Paul Singer
The Global Financial Context Paul Singer.jpg
Singer at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2013
Born Paul Elliott Singer
(1944-08-22) August 22, 1944 (age 71)
New York
Residence New York City
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Alma mater University of Rochester (B.S.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Occupation Hedge Fund Manager
Former Lawyer
Known for Elliott Management
Net worth Steady US$ 1.92 billion (August 2015)[2]

Paul Elliott Singer (born August 22, 1944) is an American hedge fund manager, investor, philanthropist, and political activist. He is the founder and CEO of hedge fund Elliott Management Corporation, a political activist and activist investor,[3][4][5] and (via his Paul E. Singer Foundation) a prominent New York based philanthropist.[6] In 2014, Forbes rated Singer's net worth as $1.9 billion.[3]

Education and early career[edit]

Singer grew up in a Jewish family,[7] one of three children of a Manhattan pharmacist and a homemaker.[8] He obtained his B.S. in psychology from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.[8][9] In 1974, Singer accepted a job as an attorney in the real estate division of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.[8][9] Additionally Singer is an accomplished musician. He began studying classical piano at the age of 10. He enjoys Led Zeppelin and has played onstage with Meat Loaf.[8]

Elliott Management Corporation[edit]

In 1977, Singer founded the hedge fund Elliott Associates L.P. with $1.3 million from various friends and family members.[8] Elliott Management Corporation oversees Elliott Associates and Elliott International Limited, which together have more than $21 billion in assets under management.[10] According to The Guardian, "Elliott's principal investment strategy is buying distressed debt cheaply and selling it at a profit or suing for full payment."[11]

A 2012 CNN profile of Singer noted that losses sustained early in his career led to a “risk aversion that still guides his investing today. For example, he rarely uses leverage to juice returns.” Thanks to his caution, “Elliott has had only two down years” since 1977, rising “4.2% in 2011, a year in which most hedge funds lost money.” According to CNN, Singer focused from early times “on distressed assets,” buying up bankrupt firms' debt and acquiring “a reputation for strong-arming his way to profit.” Elliott has been involved “in most of the big post-crash restructurings, including Chrysler and auto parts supplier Delphi.” Over Elliott's history, it has averaged 14 percent annual returns, compared with 10.8% for the S&P 500 stock index as a whole.[12][13][14][15]

In 2014 the French stock market regulator AMF fined Elliott Management and its UK arm Elliott Advisors €8 million each for insider trading related to a French motorway operator, a ruling which the company claimed it would appeal.[16]


Forbes noted, in December 2012, that Elliot Management had offered to purchase the software firm Compuware after having accumulated 8% of the company's stock. Elliott expressed the view that Compuware had great promise but had been under-performing under its current management.[17]

Sovereign debts[edit]

In 1996, Elliott bought defaulted Peruvian debt for a reported $11.4 million. In 1998, a U.S. court ruled that one could not buy debt with the sole purpose of suing the debtor. Elliott won a $58 million judgment when the ruling was overturned in 2000.[18] When former president of Peru Alberto Fujimori was attempting to flee the country due to facing legal proceedings over human rights abuses and corruption, Singer had ordered the confiscation of his jet and offered to let him leave the country in exchange for the $58 million payment from the treasury, an offer which Fujimori accepted.[14][19]

After Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2002, NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of Paul Singer's Elliott Management Corporation, refused to accept the Argentine offer to pay less than 30 cents per dollar of debt. These are bonds with a face value of $630 million, for which NML reportedly bought for $48 million,[18] but that Elliott assessed were then worth $2.3 billion with accrued interest.[8][20]

In early October 2012, NML arranged for the seizure of an Argentine naval training vessel in Ghana, the ARA Libertad, in an effort to force Argentina to pay the debt. Argentina, however, refused to pay the debt, and shortly thereafter regained control of the ship and removed it from Ghanaian waters after its seizure was deemed illegal by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.[21][22][23] After the release of the vessel, the director of Tema Harbour in Ghana stated that $7.6 million losses sustained by the port as a result of the incident should be covered by NML, whilst legal action against the hedge fund was being considered.[24]

In a November 2012 piece in the Huffington Post, Argentina's Foreign Affairs Minister, Héctor Timerman, harshly criticized Singer for attempting to collect on the debt. Calling Singer “the inventor of vulture funds,” Timerman argued that the $127 million Singer had received from the Republic of Congo to settle a $400 million debt he had acquired for $10 million “should be going to build roads, schools and other poverty reduction programs.”[25]

According to the Financial Times, "Mr Singer chafes at the term 'vulture fund'".[26] However, the term has attained widespread recognition throughout the media, and even within intergovernmental organisations, international financial institutions and numerous governments.[27][28][29][30]

The Argentine government repeatedly called Singer and other plaintiffs in these debt cases vultures and described their demands as extortion.[31] In his investor letter for the fourth quarter of 2012, Singer described Argentina’s response to the court's ruling as “defiant and acrimonious,” saying that its dismissal of the ruling as “judicial colonialism” was “puzzling,” given that Argentina had chosen “to submit itself to the jurisdiction of New York courts and to waive its sovereign immunity.”[32]

In February 2013, the U.S. appeals court heard Argentina's appeal in the NML case.[33] In March 2013, Argentina offered a new plan that was judged unlikely to be acceptable to the New York court.[34] On August 23, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court's verdict and dismissed said plan.[35] In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Argentina's appeal of the ruling.[36]


Among his causes, Singer aigned The Giving Pledge, a commitment by individuals to donate more than half of their wealth to address society's "most difficult moral and economic challenges."[37][unreliable source]

Paul E. Singer Family Foundation[edit]

Paul Singer founded the Paul E. Singer Family Foundation, which supports many charitable projects including the Harvard Graduate School of Education Singer Prize for Excellence in Secondary Teaching, VH1 Save The Music Foundation, the Food Bank For New York City, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the New York City Police Foundation and[38][39][40][41][42][43] The foundation has also given over $14 million to a variety of military causes.[44][unreliable source]

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), found that the Paul E. Singer foundation was one of many non-profit groups supporting free-market policies under the guise of philanthropy.[45]

Gay rights[edit]

Singer has contributed to gay-rights causes and same-sex marriage campaigns, and has also actively sought to persuade other conservatives to support gay marriage. He has joined other Wall Street executives in support of LGBT equality in the workplace as a means of retaining employees and improving overall business outcomes.[46] Signer stated that same-sex marriage promotes “family stability” and said that in a time when “the institution of marriage in America has utterly collapsed,” the fact that gay couples want to marry “is kind of a lovely thing and a cool thing and a wonderful thing.”[47]

Singer, whose son married his partner in Massachusetts, also donated $425,000 of his own money and raised another $500,000 to support the drive for legalization of gay marriage in New York,[48] and in October 2012, Singer donated $250,000 to the Maryland Marriage Campaign.[49]

In 2012, Singer provided $1 million to start a political action committee named American Unity PAC. According to the New York Times, the PAC's "sole mission will be to encourage Republican candidates to support same-sex marriage, in part by helping them to feel financially shielded from any blowback from well-funded groups that oppose it."[50]

In 2014, Singer contributed $375,000 to support the gay rights activist group Americans for Workplace Opportunity in an effort to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This bill requires workplace protections to extend out to the LGBT community.[51] Singer spent more than $10 million, since 2010, to help push Republicans and states to support and legalize gay marriage.[52]

In contrast, Singer has also donated large sums to political figures who oppose gay marriage. These include Ted Cruz, Steve King and the Club for Growth, which broadly supports anti-gay and anti-immigration politicians and to which Singer has donated over $850,000 to - considerably more than to pro-LGBT organizations.[53]

Political activity[edit]

He is an active participant in Republican Party politics. According to the New York Times, he supports "like-minded candidates who often share his distaste for what they view as governmental over-meddling in the financial industry." [54] Singer was a major contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns.[55] President George W. Bush appointed Singer to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.[56] Business Insider reported on January 30, 2013 that Singer gave Ben Bernanke, an economist at the Brookings Institution, a “D” grade.[57] Fortune described Singer as "a passionate defender of the 1% and a rising Republican power broker".[58]

2007 political influence[edit]

In 2007, Singer led a financial industry fund-raising effort for Rudolph Giuliani, first as regional finance chair and later as senior policy adviser.[59][60] That same year, Singer provided $175,000 to support a petition drive for a proposed California initiative to apportion the state's 55 electoral votes by congressional district. At least 19 of the state's 53 congressional districts were expected to vote for a GOP presidential candidate, enough to change the national results in a close election.[61]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In 2011, Singer played a major role in passing legislation allowing same-sex marriage in the state of New York by, along with other major GOP donors, throwing his support behind it.[62]

In 2012, Singer provided $1 million to start a PAC named American Unity PAC. According to the New York Times, the PAC's "sole mission will be to encourage Republican candidates to support same-sex marriage, in part by helping them to feel financially shielded from any blowback from well-funded groups that oppose it."[50]

Political action committees[edit]

In 2011, Singer donated $1 million to Restore Our Future, a Super PAC (political action committee) created to support Mitt Romney, in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.[63] In 2013, Singer also gave $100,000 to The Club for Growth.[64] He has also donated millions of dollars to political parties that advocate for a strong military and for supporting Israel.[65][66][67]

Board memberships[edit]

Singer is Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a think tank in New York City.[68][69]

He also serves on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School and the Board of Directors of Commentary Magazine.[70][71]

Singer is a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation.[72]

Writings and commentary[edit]

Singer has written columns in the Wall Street Journal.[71] In 2009, he wrote a piece titled, “Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation,” in which he argued that, “It's true that monetary policy was too lax for too long, and the government encouraged lending to people who were unlikely to repay their loans. But this crisis was primarily caused by managements and individuals throughout the financial system who exercised extremely poor judgment. The private sector, not the public sector, is where the biggest mistakes were made.”[73]

At a September 2006 financial conference in New York City, Singer delivered a speech called "Complexity Made Simple," advising that the purchase of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) was a serious mistake, anticipating the downturn of the housing market by nearly a year before the $770 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.[9]

Hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos, revealed in an August 2009 radio interview that he and Singer had met with G7 finance ministers in 2007 to warn them that the global financial system was increasingly unstable and approaching a catastrophe, with banks on the verge of sinking the global economy. They argued that decisive action was called for, but were met with indifference, including then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who was present at the meeting.[74]

Investor letters[edit]

In 2015, Singer threatened to sue individuals who leaked his investor letters criticising high profile figures, stating that he "learned the identities of certain individuals who breached their confidentiality obligations".[75]

Personal life[edit]

Singer has been divorced since 1996. He lives on New York City's Upper West Side and also has a house in Aspen, Colorado.[8]


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  48. ^ Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro (May 14, 2011). "Donors to GOP are backing gay marriage push". The New York Times. 
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  65. ^ Thomas Jr., Landon (January 25, 2007). "Hedge Fund Chiefs, With Cash, Join Political Fray". The New York Times. Retrieved July 20, 2015. Mr. Singer is a self-described conservative libertarian who has given millions of dollars to Republican organizations that emphasize a strong military and support Israel. 
  66. ^ Clifton, Eli (April 7, 2014). "GOP Pro–Gay Marriage Funder’s Other Agenda: Bombing Iran". The Nation. Retrieved July 20, 2015. 
  67. ^ Blumenthal, Paul (April 23, 2014). "Wall Street, War Hawks Fund Challenger To Only Anti-War, Anti-Wall Street Republican". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 20, 2015. Singer, known as a "passionate defender of the 1%," a proponent of pro-war policies against Iran and a backer of right-wing elements in Israel...Singer has sought to position himself as a GOP power player by backing candidates who agree with certain key stands: support for gay marriage and immigration reform, a hawkish foreign policy and opposition to a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. Through his charitable foundation and personal donations, Singer has contributed millions to groups advocating for confrontation with Iran and hard right policies on Israel. 
  68. ^ [4], "Manhattan Institute Trustees", 2010
  69. ^ "Manhattan Institute". Manhattan-Institute. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  70. ^ "Board of Fellows". 
  71. ^ a b Paul Singer (March 23, 2010). "The Dodd bill and U.S. Competitiveness". Wall Street Journal. 
  72. ^ "Members". Committee on Capital Markets Regulation. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  73. ^ Singer, Paul (April 3, 2009). "Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation". The Wall Street Journal. 
  74. ^ Johnson, Rob; Lynn Parramore (September 1, 2009). "Jim Chanos Warned Brown, Geithner, and Others about Coming Financial Crash in 2007". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  75. ^ La Roche, Julia (30 July 2015). "Paul Singer knows who has been passing around his confidential investor letters and he's 'seeking monetary damages'". Business Insider. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 

External links[edit]