Saturday, November 07, 2009

Kirk Stephenson

The risk of securities lending (or watch your counterparty)...

Kirk Stephenson (1961 - 2008)
This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Kirk Stephenson, who died on Thursday, September 25, 2008.


New Zealand born, he arrived in London in 1983 when he was in his early 20's as an SG Warburg graduate trainee and he never left. After his stint in he City, he went on to work as CFO and COO at several well-respected, large organisations including Amersham Plc, Coats Plc and the international iaw firm, Freshfields. Latterly he had worked as a director for the private equity firm Olivant set up in 2006, which came to prominence earlier this year as one of the potential bidders for Northern Rock.
20 Minuten, 2008-09-29: Millionär wirft sich vor Schnellzug
Zusammen mit Luqman Arnold, der für kurze Zeit Konzernchef der UBS war, gründete Stephenson vor zwei Jahren die Beteiligungsgesellschaft Olivant Advisers. Diese übernahm im Juni dieses Jahres für über eine Milliarde Euro 2,5 Prozent der UBS-Aktien – ein folgenschwerer Fehler, wie sich mit dem Kurszerfall der UBS-Aktien herausstellte. 250 Millionen Euro soll Stephenson verloren haben.
Olivant: Statement 1 October 2008
Olivant Limited has previously indicated that it is interested in shares in UBS representing 2.78% of the company. These shares were held through Lehman Brothers International (Europe) (“LBIE”). In light of the appointment of administrators to LBIE, Olivant Limited is evaluating the position of its interest in UBS and is in contact with the administrators to secure these assets.
Olivant: Kirk Stephenson 2 October 2008
Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife and family.
London Evening Standard, 2008-10-02: Mystery of ‘lost’ shares Olivant left at Lehman
City Spy hears it was “in the small print” that they could be moved on, that Lehman could use them to raise cash. Arnold said: “We are fortunate that we are a private company, and a company which has substantial paid-up capital, which means that this is not a drama for us.”
Oh no? The shares have vanished and you can't vote? Sounds pretty dramatic. Did Stephenson know Lehman could take them? If not, why not? How did Arnold find out and how did he react? Questions, questions. Unfortunately, the COO cannot answer them.
FinishingWell, 2008-12-01: When the Pressure Became Too Great...
As Olivant's chief operating officer, Stephenson had approved the Lehman contract, and had left the firm and was negotiating a separation agreement. Several friends offered that Stephenson had recently told them that he was under enormous pressure at work. Still, his death was a tremendous shock to a wide circle of friends, not only in business, but also art and politics. Only a few weeks before Lehman's bankruptcy, Stephenson and his wife had gone to Verona, Italy, to see the opera with a friend who heads a London hedge fund. On Sunday, September 21st, Stephenson had attended his regular weekly tennis game. His playing partner said he didn't talk about specific problems, but made it clear that "things weren't easy" at work. His game was off and his spirits subdued. "He seemed down, pale, and had other things on his mind," Mr. Maher said.

Clearly, the pressure had become too great. Stephenson was known to be fastidious about everything, from his neat handwriting to his ironed handkerchiefs. Mr. Maher, his tennis partner recalled him organizing the bills in his wallet so they faced the same way and were ordered in size. "Control was a very important feature for him," Mr. Maher offered. And clearly, the economic meltdown, and his financial demise, were too much for him to handle
One year later and no news of the UBS shares... only some merger announcements of some Russian banks at the Olivant press release page. Hmm, those, Northern Rock, UBS, Lehman Brothers...

Bloomberg, 2009-09-15: London suicide connects Lehman lesson missed by Hong Kong woman
The stocks and bonds of Lehman’s London brokerage customers, used as collateral to borrow more money, were frozen on September 15. About 3,500 clients, including 700 hedge funds, couldn’t get access to an estimated $65 billion of assets. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Lehman’s UK bankruptcy administrator, is still sorting out who should get paid and how much. Some firms have closed, and others may have to wait as long as a decade to get their assets back, Tony Lomas, the PwC partner in charge of the UK administration, said in August.

It took only 10 days for the ice-nine to get to Kirk Stephenson, chief operating officer of Olivant Ltd., a London private-equity firm run by former UBS AG Chairman Luqman Arnold. On September 25, Stephenson, 47, jumped in front of a train going 125 mph at a station in Taplow, 45 kilometers west of London.

The coroner’s office for the county of Buckinghamshire ruled the death a suicide. Stephenson, a native of New Zealand, was despondent about the financial crisis and talked about killing himself one week after Lehman’s demise, according to a statement from his wife read at the coroner’s inquest.

Lehman Brothers International (Europe) was Olivant’s prime broker. It held the firm’s 2.78-percent stake in UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank by assets, according to a statement from Olivant on October 1. The shares were worth 1.6 billion francs ($1.44 billion) at the time.

The hedge fund lock-up led the UK to reconsider its procedures when firms fail. While Lehman’s broker-dealer in the US stayed out of bankruptcy long enough to process many of its trades, the business seized up in the UK.

“In the US, everything was wrapped in cotton wool for four days,” said PwC’s Lomas. In the UK, “everything failed come 7:56 a.m. that Monday morning.”

The UK had an advantage in attracting hedge fund assets before the Lehman bankruptcy. While US prime brokers face limits on how much they can loan hedge funds, those rules could be circumvented with overseas units like Lehman’s in London. Some US clients didn’t know they were customers of Lehman Brothers International (Europe).

“If you didn’t pay attention to what you were signing, you would have missed it,” said Michael Romanek, principal at Rise Partners Ltd., which arranges financing for funds from London. “It was called enhanced prime brokerage, where they could be more accommodating with more leverage or loans. It just took signing some extra papers in New York. Most people didn’t realize it.”
His legacy
No material is available.

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