Back in the day, Westport was the marketing capital of the world.
That was then. Hedge funds are now.
Though Bridgewater Associates gets most of the press, Main Street is home (metaphorically) to other firms that a few years ago would have been on Wall Street.
At the end of last year, Reuters reported on one:
Andy Hall, one of the world’s largest commodity hedge fund managers, has returned his Astenbeck fund to profit just before year end, helped by what he described as new winning positions in crude oil and corn.
Until last month, the Westport, Connecticut-based Astenbeck, which has about $4.8 billion under management, appeared headed for a second year of losses after an unexpected slump in crude prices in October tripped up its long positions in oil. …
Its fortunes reversed with November’s performance, when it recouped almost everything it lost the previous month after a rebound in crude prices put its bullish bets on oil back on track.
I’m not sure how many Westporters — those not in the industry, anyway — have heard of Astenbeck.
They share the Nyala Farm office complex with Bridgewater. Unlike that bigger hedge fund, though — whose main headquarters are in the woods off Weston Road — Astenbeck has not gotten a sweetheart deal to move to Stamford.
Yesterday, Astenbeck CEO Hall was back in the news. Bloomberg reported:
Andrew J. Hall, the former Citigroup Inc. oil trader whose pay package of about $100 million ensnared him in the fight over compensation at bailed- out banks in 2009, is selling handmade lavender soap and grass- fed Angus beef from a farm in Reading, Vermont.
There’s more to the story, of course. Bloomberg says:
He has torn down at least half a dozen homes in the 666-person central Vermont town and opened an appointment-only art museum there last year. His holdings, including Newhall Farm, are valued at more than $13.8 million, the records show.
Some townspeople think Hall’s work is “wonderful.” Others said they were “less sure, citing razed homes, the lower tax rate Hall pays on some of his land and a dispute with a next-door neighbor over power lines.”
Interesting. The truth — as it usually does — probably lies somewhere in the middle.
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