Hedge fund tycoon Crispin Odey – who recently demanded Theresa May’s eviction from No 10 saying she couldn’t be trusted to carry Brexit through – stands to make huge profits from the woes of the UK economy, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
His firm Odey Asset Management has taken out more than £500 million ‘short’ positions – which are essentially a gamble that a share price will fall – on some of Britain’s biggest firms, implying that he expects a poor performance from them.
The firms represent a cross-section of the UK economy, including ITV, against which Odey has staked a £47 million bet, according to financial data provider Bloomberg.
Odey’s apparent lack of confidence in flagship British firms stands in marked contrast to his fund’s investments in other countries
Others include telecoms firm TalkTalk, against with Odey has staked a £7.5 million bet, shopping centre owner Intu (£40 million), upmarket property developer Berkeley Group (£45 million), car dealer Lookers (£2.5 million) and a string of retailers, including department store Debenhams (£17 million).
Odey’s apparent lack of confidence in flagship British firms stands in marked contrast to his fund’s investments in other countries, including France, Germany and the US, where he is mainly backing shares to rise.
The flamboyant fund manager, who once spent more than £100,000 on a chicken coop dubbed Cluckingham Palace at his Gloucestershire mansion, has given hundreds of thousands to campaigns backing Britain’s separation from the European Union including Global Britain and the Democracy Movement.
He is a longstanding supporter of fellow Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, funding the Conservative MP’s Election campaign in 2015. In 2007, he also helped Rees-Mogg set up an investment firm of his own, Somerset Capital Management, which has virtually no investments in the UK, but large holdings in Russia.
In addition to its short positions against British shares, Odey Asset Management has taken a £150 million bet against the value of Government bonds.
Odey Asset Management has taken out more than £500 million ‘short’ positions on some of Britain’s biggest firms, implying that he expects a poor performance from them
Specialist magazine Financial Adviser described this as investing ‘in such a way that he will profit if investor sentiment turns against the country’, which could happen if overseas investors pull out their cash because of fears of a hard Brexit. Odey declined to comment on his investment strategy.
In past interviews he said his decisions had been motivated by the belief that the Bank of England’s quantitative easing programme, under which £435 billion was printed to boost the economy, would lead to inflation.
Odey was riding high in 2014 when his wealth, together with wife Nichola Pease, a former non-executive director at failed bank Northern Rock, was valued at £1.1 billion. His views have been known to swing the stock market.
But he was wrong-footed by the referendum vote in 2016 which he believed would bring about a slump in company share prices and subsequent predictions of a market crash have so far failed to materialise.
By the end of July that year his European fund has become the worst hedge fund performer, with a fall of 29.2 per cent. His firm then suffered two years of declines and his family wealth is now estimated to be closer to £750 million, according to The Sunday Times.
But his funds have had a good start to the year, rising by almost 20 per cent, according to his most recent reports.
More recently he has become vociferous on political issues and last week urged the Conservative Party to take a harder line on Brexit negotiations. He said Michael Gove should replace Theresa May as Prime Minister because ‘she can’t make a decision’.
Ironically, the Environment Secretary last week demanded a crackdown on ‘crony capitalists’ who have ‘rigged the system’. Gove said there had been a ‘failure’ of capitalism that needed to be addressed urgently so it did not only result in the rich getting richer.
Odey made a fortune from the credit crunch by betting against doomed banks. A year before the problems started appearing, he spotted cracks in the system and made bets that bank shares would fall.
What next for bitcoin?
After last year’s mania when Bitcoin’s price spiked to almost $20,000, the cryptocurrency took a tumble and interest has drained away.
Now Bitcoin Google searches are down 90%.
Is that it for cryptocurrency, or is it time to buy for the long-term when things are quiet?
On this podcast we take a look at who’s buying, holding and waiting for the price to rise again.