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
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] Singer's aggressive business practices have been criticized by a number of politicians, journalists, business people and NGOs as having the traits of a vulture fund.[1][7][8][9]

Education and early career[edit]

Singer grew up in a Jewish family,[10] one of three children of a Manhattan pharmacist and a homemaker.[11] He obtained his B.S. in psychology from the University of Rochester and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.[11][12] In 1974, Singer accepted a job as an attorney in the real estate division of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.[11][12] Singer is an accomplished musician who began studying classical piano at the age of 10. He enjoys Led Zeppelin and has played onstage with Meat Loaf.[11]

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.[11] Elliott Management Corporation oversees Elliott Associates and Elliott International Limited, which together have more than $21 billion in assets under management.[13] 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."[14]

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.[9][15][16][17]


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.[18]

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.[19] 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 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.[17][20]

After Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2002, NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of 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,[19] but that Elliott assessed were then worth $2.3 billion with accrued interest.[11][21]

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.[22][23][24] 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.[25]

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 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.”[26]

According to the Financial Times, "Mr Singer chafes at the term 'vulture fund'".[27] However, the term has attained widespread recognition throughout the media, and even within intergovernmental organisations, international financial institutions and numerous governments.[28][29][30][31]

The Argentine government repeatedly called Singer and other plaintiffs in these debt cases vultures and described their demands as extortion.[32] 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.”[33]

In February 2013, the U.S. appeals court heard Argentina's appeal in the NML case.[34] In March 2013, Argentina offered a new plan that was judged unlikely to be acceptable to the New York court.[35] On August 23, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the lower court's verdict and dismissed said plan.[36] In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Argentina's appeal of the ruling.[37]


Singer signed The Giving Pledge, which signals a commitment by individuals to donate more than half of their wealth within their lifetime to address society's "most difficult moral and economic challenges."[38]

Paul E. Singer Family Foundation[edit]

Paul Singer founded the Paul E. Singer Family Foundation, which supports charitable causes 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[39][40][41][42][43][44]

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.[45] 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.”[46]

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,[47] and in October 2012, Singer donated $250,000 to the Maryland Marriage Campaign.[48]

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.[49]

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]

In 2014, Singer contributed $375,000 to support the gay rights 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 has spent more than $10 million since 2010 to help push Republicans and states to support and legalize gay marriage.[52]

Political activity[edit]

Singer 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." [53] Singer was a major contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns.[54] 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.[55] Business Insider reported on January 30, 2013 that Singer gave Ben Bernanke, an economist at the Brookings Institution, a “D” grade.[56]

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.[57][58] 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.[59]

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.[60] In 2013, Singer also gave $100,000 to The Club for Growth.[61] He has also donated millions of dollars to organizations that advocate for a strong military and for supporting Israel.[62][63][64]

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.[65][66]

He also serves on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School and the Board of Directors of Commentary Magazine.[67][68]

Singer is a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation.[69]

Writings and commentary[edit]

Singer has written columns in the Wall Street Journal.[68] 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.”[70]

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.[12]

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.[71]

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".[72]

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.[11] Singer told the Financial Times that he firmly believes that the world will end from an electromagnetic pulse.[73]


  1. ^ a b Spat between Samsung and NYC Hedge Fund takes nasty detour into Jew-baiting, The Observer (07/2015)
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  15. ^ Keith, Tamara. "SuperDonor Backs Romney – And Gay Marriage". New Hampshire News. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
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  20. ^ ""Fujimori paid and the Vulture Funds gave him the plane to flee from Peru," said Toussaint". Telam. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
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  22. ^ Whitehouse, Kaja. "Argentina says 'Arrh, no!' to Paul Singer’s $20 million demand for seized ship". New York Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  23. ^ BBC, Kaja. "Ghana told to free Argentine ship Libertad by UN court". BBC. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  24. ^ Ed Stocker, "Argentina welcomes home ship held in Ghana by US 'vulture fund'", The Independent, 9 January 2013
  25. ^ Lopez, Linette (December 21, 2012). "Hedge Fund Billionaire Paul Singer May Have To Pay For His Brief Stint As A Pirate". Business Insider. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  26. ^ Timerman, Hector (November 14, 2012). "Africa and Latin America Still Fight Vulture Funds". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  27. ^ Foley, Stephen, Paul Singer, the hedge fund holdout, Financial Times, June 20, 2014 (registration required)
  28. ^ "Fonds vautours contre pays pauvres : 26 June 2007" (PDF). Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  29. ^ Alexander Main (9 July 2014). "U.S. on Its Own, Once Again, at OAS Meeting on Argentine Sovereign Debt". CEPR. 
  30. ^ "US Council of Foreign Affairs supports Argentina, blasts Judge Griesa". MercoPress. 26 June 2014. 
  31. ^ Wray, Richard (2010-04-08). "Bill to stop vulture funds using UK courts gets royal assent". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  32. ^ Eaves, Peter; Stevenson, Alexandra. "Argentina Finds Relentless Foe in Paul Singer’s Hedge Fund". New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  33. ^ Lopez, Linette. "Hedge Funder Paul Singer Went Ballistic On Argentina In His Q4 Investor Letter". Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  34. ^ Raymond, Nate (April 2, 2013). "UPDATE 2-US court demands Argentine bondholders address pay plan". Reuters. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  35. ^ "Argentina offers to pay debts with cash & bonds". Associated Press. 30 March 2013. 
  36. ^ UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT (23 August 2013). "12-105(L) NML Capital, Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina" (PDF). Clarín. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  37. ^ Argentina makes debt case in US newspapers AFP wire, June 23, 2014
  38. ^ Fuller, Jaime. "Meet the wealthy donor who’s trying to get Republicans to support gay marriage". The Washington Post. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  39. ^ [1], "Harvard Awards the First Singer Prize", May 31, 2007
  40. ^ [2], "Dr. Shiela Johnson and Gordon Appointed to VHI Save the Music Foundation Board of Directors", March 19, 2007
  41. ^ [3], "New York City Police Foundation Donors List", June 30, 2009
  42. ^ "Can-Do 2010 Supporters". 
  43. ^ Eric Lichtblau (August 27, 2010). "Financier’s Largess Shows G.O.P.’s Wall St. Support". The New York Times. New York Times. 
  44. ^ "The Paul E. Singer Foundation Donates $25,000 to, Inc.™". Marine Parents. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  45. ^ "Out on the Street' Summit to Spotlight LGBT Employee Issues | LGBT Employees". 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  46. ^ Bruni, Frank (June 9, 2012). "The G.O.P.’s Gay Trajectory". New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  47. ^ Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro (May 14, 2011). "Donors to GOP are backing gay marriage push". The New York Times. 
  48. ^ "Republican Donor Paul Singer Gives $250,000 to Maryland Marriage Campaign". The Advocate. Retrieved 18 March 2013. 
  49. ^ Barbaro, Michael (June 25, 2011). "The Road to Gay Marriage in New York". The New York Times. 
  50. ^ Bruni, Frank (June 9, 2012). "The G.O.P.’s Gay Trajectory". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2012. 
  51. ^ Palmer, Anna (9 April 2014). "Billionaires push Republicans on gay rights bill". Politico. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  52. ^ Fuller, Jaime (4 April 2014). "Meet the wealthy donor who’s trying to get Republicans to support gay marriage". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  53. ^ New York Times: "Financier’s Largess Shows G.O.P.’s Wall St. Support" By ERIC LICHTBLAU August 27, 2010
  54. ^ "Hedge Fund Chiefs, With Cash, Join Political Fray". The New York Times. New York Times. January 25, 2007. 
  55. ^ "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert". The New York Sun. 2008-05-13. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  56. ^ La Roche, Julia. "Hedge Fund Billionaire Paul Singer Gives Bernanke A 'D' Grade". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
  57. ^ "Romney Attracts More of Bush's Top Donors Than Rivals (Update2)". Bloomberg. July 20, 2007. 
  58. ^ new York Times: "Publicity-Shy Giuliani Backer Is Thrust Into Spotlight" By MICHAEL COOPER and LESLIE WAYNE November 22, 2007
  59. ^ Andrew Malcolm, "Giuliani fundraiser was mystery initiative backer", Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2007
  60. ^ "Schedule A Itemized Receipts – Committee: RESTORE OUR FUTURE, INC.". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  61. ^ Yang, Jia (11 October 2013). "Here’s who pays the bills for Ted Cruz’s crusade". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 
  62. ^ 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. 
  63. ^ Clifton, Eli (April 7, 2014). "GOP Pro–Gay Marriage Funder’s Other Agenda: Bombing Iran". The Nation. Retrieved July 20, 2015. 
  64. ^ 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. 
  65. ^ [4], "Manhattan Institute Trustees", 2010
  66. ^ "Manhattan Institute". Manhattan-Institute. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  67. ^ "Board of Fellows". 
  68. ^ a b Paul Singer (March 23, 2010). "The Dodd bill and U.S. Competitiveness". Wall Street Journal. 
  69. ^ "Members". Committee on Capital Markets Regulation. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  70. ^ Singer, Paul (April 3, 2009). "Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation". The Wall Street Journal. 
  71. ^ 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. 
  72. ^ 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. 
  73. ^ Goodley, Simon (31 July 2009). "Profile: Argentina's nemesis, hedge fund manager Paul Singer". Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 

External links[edit]