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November 15, 2006

Hedge Fund Trader Almost Famous

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 11/15/2006 08:02:00 AM
I love reading articles about hedge fund managers who are almost famous, because the media loves to write about them and mystify them. The truth is, with the exception of the size of their checkbook, they really are just like the rest of us. The Times did a recent article on the head trader at Goldman Sachs Principal Strategies, Raanan A. Agus, and notes that he drives a Honda minivan. Good for him.

Traders at Wall Street investment banks are now priming themselves for another big bonus haul this year. And Raanan A. Agus, the manager of one of Goldman’s largest internal hedge funds, and the owner of a Honda minivan, will be in line for one of the richer paydays.

More than any other investment bank, Goldman Sachs relies on trading gains to drive its profits. Mr. Agus had a very good year in 2005 — he is estimated to have made $10 million to $20 million — and he will surely get a raise in 2006. His year is further evidence that on Wall Street, the real money is being made not by investment bankers cutting high-profile deals, but by anonymous traders making risky, profitable bets with their firm’s capital.

It's interesting to note the description of what the people at Principal Strategies actually do straight from the horse's mouth, L. Jay Tenenbaum, his successor on the risk arbitrage desk.

“All I did was call directors and accountants or anyone in on the merger and be charming,” said Mr. Tenenbaum, who is now 83 and who honored his mentor by giving his youngest son the middle name Gustave. “I just wanted to know when the merger was going to happen.”

Does this sound like asking for trips or insider trading? No wonder they always make money.

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