For three decades, Crispin O’Day stood above London’s financial community, a larger-than-life financial mogul known for taking big bets – and raking in big profits when they proved right.
But in a little more than a week, his hedge fund is suddenly on the brink of dissolution, brought down by the latest allegations of sexual assault and harassment against its 64-year-old founder.
The firm, Oday Asset Management, said on Thursday it was in “advanced discussions” to transfer funds and staff to other firms. The reason, it was noted perhaps with extreme understatement, was that “it had become apparent that some of the partnership’s investment management activities were affected by recent events.”
In a sign that investor confidence in the company was waning, Oday Asset Management said it would shut down one of its funds and deterred investors extorting their money from others, which was followed by what the firm described as a “huge level of redemption requests”. In the hedge fund world, such a move, known as “gating”, is considered a drastic move to avoid the equivalent of a walk on the bank.
It’s not clear how much money is left in Ode Asset Management, which earlier this year was worth $4.9 billion.
Those events were capped off on June 8 by a nearly 7,900-word Investigation in the Financial Times, in which 13 women said Mr O’Day assaulted or abused them at his firm’s lavish offices in Mayfair, at his London townhouse and at his country mansion in western England. Several of the women quoted also said that Mr. O’Day’s behavior was known throughout the firm.
In response, ODE Asset Management said it treated the allegations as “very seriouslyand that “robust policies and procedures were in place” to comply with legislation and financial regulations.
Within two days of the article’s publication, the firm said it had removed Mr. O’Day from the partnership. The firm’s financial counterparts – including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, all of which provide significant banking services to the firm – cut ties.
Harriet Baldwin, chair of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, this week called the Financial Conduct AuthorityTo answer questions about its supervision of Oday Asset Management, one of the country’s top financial regulators.
The questions Ms Baldwin presented to the authority included a previous investigation into Mr O’Day and the extent of its wider work overseeing firms dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct.
Oude’s potential dissolution marks a reckoning for its founder, who stood out from London’s pinstriped financier crowd with an aristocratic swashbuckler image and a willingness to make rival bets to make a lot of money.
The financier, whose full name is Robin Crispin William O’Day, was born into a line of industrialists, and his grandfather was a Conservative legislator. Mr O’Day was educated at elite British institutions including Harrow School and Oxford University. Nevertheless, he faced money problems when his family fell into financial trouble. (He once called his father “doomed from start to finish,” whose debt forced the sale of the family home.)
After graduating from Oxford, Mr. O’Day settled into banking as a way of recouping his wealth. He struck out on his own in 1991, creating Ode Asset Management as a vehicle for his gut-instinct trading style.
Prior to the 2008 financial crisis the tendency to place large bets often paid off when betting against British banks. At its height, the firm managed over $13 billion.
But he also often lost money. capital fund of the firm lost about 50 percent Via Bad Bets in 2016.
His fortune made him a financial figure, and he was a major donor to Britain’s ruling Conservative Party. (Kwasi Kwarteng, whose brief stint last year as the country’s finance minister under Prime Minister Liz Truss shook investor confidence in the government, previously worked for Mr O’Day’s firm.)
Mr O’Day also became a vocal supporter of Britain leaving the European Union – although he drew some criticism for earning 220 million pounds, or $280 million, from market movements linked to the event.
In an Ode-esque flourish, he quoting an italian expression“Il mattino ha loro in bocca,” or “The morning has gold in its mouth,” aired the BBC the day after the Brexit referendum.
The allegations of sexual misconduct described by the Financial Times were not the first allegations made against Mr O’Day; Previous allegations were made by The Times of London, Bloomberg News and a podcast by Turtle Media. In 2021, he stood trial over a claim of indecent assault involving an employee at the firm. He was acquitted by the presiding judge, who told him, “You leave this court with your good character.”
Since then, Mr. O’Day and his firm appear poised for recovery: Its flagship fund has a 152 percent return last year, in large part because of its highly profitable bet against british government bondsUpset by the short-term economic policies initiated by his former employee, Mr. Kwarteng.