Abigail with attitude: The rise and fall of Crispin Odey?


Abigail Hofman
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According to Reuters, Crispin Odey, a respected hedge fund manager, took a 5% stake in Man Group last October and increased this further in April when the share price was around 100p, some 20% higher than the current price. Odey is a very astute investor and is admired for buying Barclays’ shares at their post-crunch low in the spring of 2009.

Nevertheless, Odey might have slipped up in June 2013. A mole kindly sent through the May report from Odey Asset Management. Following the turmoil caused by Bernanke’s party-pooping press conference on June 19, I re-read Odey’s commentary and was both shocked and cheered that even the best and best-informed financial players can get it wrong. "So we are investing in the expectation that next Wednesday," Odey wrote, "the Fed and Bernanke will come out and soothe the market by saying that QE will only come to an end when the economy in the US is well and truly recovered. Bond yields will fall. Rallies will be everywhere." Well, that’s not exactly what happened is it? In fact the yield on 10-year US treasuries rose 35 basis points (some 16%) in two days.

Nevertheless, I do have a soft spot for Mr Odey ever since it leaked out, last year, that he was erecting a £150,000 Palladian-style hen house for his chickens at his country estate in Gloucestershire. "The fowl extravagance of Crispin Odey’s chicken house," lambasted one left-wing newspaper. But I secretly saluted Odey. What is the point of taking large risks and beating the casino if you can’t make the occasional excessive and eccentric purchase? There is a touch of ancient Rome about Odey and I find him refreshing.