American billionaire Paul Singer is a hedge fund manager, venture capitalist, investor, activist, and philanthropist who has been on the financial scene for the last twenty-two years or so, and has enjoyed success to the tune of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes. He is also a very diverse individual, belonging to the Republican part and taking part in many philanthropic efforts, including financial support for the LGBTQ community, among many other worthwhile causes. He has been described as being one of the ‘…smartest and toughest money managers’ in hedge funds, while others have assigned him the title of ‘vulture capitalist’. Opinions vary, and matter little, actually. It’s obvious that whatever Singer is doing it seems to be legal, and it is apparently working better for him than flipping burgers would by a long shot.
So, who is Paul Singer really? As a person, even as a billionaire that has gained fame on Wall Street, little is known about him personally, professionally, or otherwise. If hedge funds or other investments aren’t you r bag, you really wouldn’t have a clue about the man, his accomplishments, or anything else, and most of us aren’t involved in the market. Well, we plan to change that for you…NOT the parts about the market or investing, but rather the level of knowledge you have about this man who made his billions on his own, through proper planning, diligence, and the application of wisdom and intelligence.
Below is a list of twenty facts about Paul Singer’s life, career, and younger years. This should give you the low down on the man behind the money, not to mention enlighten you a bit as to what it takes to make billions. Even if you aren’t investing you should find him interesting; I know I did. So, keep reading to discover Paul Singer and the things that make up his extraordinary life on this planet.
1. On Being Republican
As we mentioned before, Singer is a Republican, and many of his philanthropic efforts have gone to support the Republican Party, as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee. According to our sources, he and many others affiliated with Elliot Management Corporation, which is a company started by him (his middle name is Elliot) are primary contributors to the party. He also has made donations to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. We should also note that Singer, while being Republican, does not support raising taxes for the wealthiest 1%, which is an issue that is constantly under debate.
2. Heading Elliot Management Corporation
While he heads Elliot Management, he has been referred to as a ‘vulture capitalist’, as we brought up before. But why is that? Well, he got the ‘nickname’ because the company runs a hedge fund, and that hedge fund has been called a ‘vulture fund’ by many because it purchases outstanding debt, or ‘sovereign debt’, from countries that are going into default or are already in it, such as Peru. These purchases are actually done through NML Capital Limited, which is an off-shore satellite unit of Elliot Management that is located in the Cayman Islands. While ‘vulture’ is something of a negative reference, there are countless people who think he is nothing short of a genius.
3. His Education
Singer is a native of Teaneck, New Jersey and was born in 1944, making him approximately 75 years of age. He was one of three children raised in a Jewish family, with his father being a pharmacist and his mother a homemaker. After attending school in Teaneck, Singer went on to earn his Bachelors’ Degree in 1966 from the University of Rochester, having majored in psychology, but he went on to earn his J.D. from Harvard Law in 1969. Five years later the man found himself practicing real estate law with Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette, an investment bank based in New York City.
4. His Career
While he started out as a lawyer, that is not where Singer stayed. Seemingly dissatisfied, he left the law firm in 1977 and with a winning ‘convertible arbitrage’, or market-neutral investment strategy, he began Elliot Associates, L.P., which was his hedge fund. It took $1.3 million in seed money to start, which was donated for the cause by family and friends. Today, according to The Telegraph, his hedge fund is one of the longest running operating on Wall Street.
5. Noted Professional Achievements
Singer has been involved in quite a bit of notable things in his career that will follow him like a beacon among his peers and associates. He was involved many of the restructurings that took place after the crash. By taking control of Delphi Automotive, which was the sole supplier of parts that were desperately needed by Chrysler and GM, he saw to it the need was met, and the decision was referred to as ‘a brilliantly complex financial maneuver’. Through that takeover US government ended up paying Elliot Management more than $12.9 billion in both subsidies and cash from the auto bailout fund. In 2011, ‘Vinashin’; which was Vietnam’s shipbuilder and was state-owned, was sued by Elliot Associates in the United Kingdom. The reason for the suit was for them allowing a $600 million loan to go into default. In 2014, it was declared that Elliot Associates had power over $23 billion, and was officially the ninth largest investment firm occupying Wall Street.
6. Singer and Soccer
In what is called his ‘most high-profile venture’ since battling Argentina in court over its debt, Singer, in cooperation with Elliot Management, took over control of Italian soccer club, AC Milan. The club happens to be seven-time European champions. Former club captain Paolo Maldini argued with Singer’s son, Gordon, in October of 2018 over money, according to Ft.com. They say he wanted Singer to approve a €35 million transaction which was supposedly a fee that would pay for the acquisition of Brazilian player Lucas Paqueta. Elliot Management already owned the team at that point for months. Unfortunately for Maldini the deal would go against the company’s budget for the team, which was set up because they were already in dire straits financially. Maldini had argued that bringing in a player that would change the teams fate would be worth the price, and in the end, Gordon Singer gave in, agreeing. Execs for Elliot stated that they had taken over the team because there was potential for profit, but they were accused of doing it out of ‘vanity’; they had gone into the venture with the intention of selling the club at a profit. However, the team has been on a downslide, and Singer plans to turn that around.
7. Predictions and Recognition For Them
In 2008 an economic crisis hit; it’s more than likely that many of you remember it. What you may not remember is the fact that Elliot Management predicted that crisis, and that they did to the benefit of a countless number of groups and individuals. The good news is that the Wall Street Journal stepped up eagerly to give the credit for that prediction to the company (and the man) that made it. The New York Times stated that Singer and his company are among the ‘most revered’ of the hedge fund managers. Many in the business will be quick to tell you that Singer’s strategy and foresight are amazing, not to mention the ‘aggression’ in which he advances when it comes to takeovers and other business deals that show great promise.
8. Start-Up Nation Central
According to The PES Foundation is ‘an organization committed to solving global problems through deepening ties between Israel’s start-up ecosystem and the global innovation economy. Singer co-founded the organization. According to their website, they are ‘an independent non-profit that builds bridges for Israeli innovation’. They use NGO leaders from all over the world in combination with government, business to bring this innovation about. It should be noted that in 2017 Singer and his company donated $448 million to serve this organization’s needs.
9. Forbes Lists Featuring Paul Singer
Well, this particular topic was a given, but it’s how he rated and on what lists he is on that you may not have known. While he has made Forbes’ lists in the past, the following are lists featuring Singer for the year 2019. First, he is at #239 on the Forbes 400 for 2019. He made #691 on the Forbes 2019 Billionaires list, and he also made the Highest Earning Hedge Fund Managers list for 2019, coming in at #19. Not a bad claim to fame, if I do say so myself.
10. Singer’s Personal Life
From what we gathered, Paul Singer is divorced from ex-wife Emily and lives in New York City. He has two sons, Gordon and Andrew. Andrew, during his adult years, revealed to his father that he is gay. Singer says his response was less than desirable, as he was worried about the health issues that may surround being gay, as well as whether or not he would enjoy grandchildren. He rated his outlook toward the issue as a ‘solid 2.1 out of 10’, but his viewpoint and attitude changed drastically with Andrew’s revelation. Son Gordon, on the other hand, is a partner at Elliot Management and head of the Elliot branch in London. He is also a University of Oxford graduate as well as founder of ‘Restore the Music UK’, an organization which seeks to restore access to music to all children in elementary schools and secondary schools across London, England. He is also very involved in helping to run Elliot in London. As far as Paul Singer’s upbringing, he was raised by his parents, as we mentioned earlier, in Teaneck, NJ, and he had three siblings, but the names of his parents and siblings are not readily available.
11. Singer and The Washington Free Beacon
The New York Times published an article on October 27, 2017 that spoke of The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political journalism website. According to The Times, The Beacon was, at that time, sponsoring a Washington, D.C.-based firm called Fusion GPS. This particular firm was the object of much controversy due to research it was conducting in opposition to President Donald Trump. The Times happened to discuss the fact that Paul Singer was a primary provider of funds for The Washington Free Beacon, which brought questions to the minds of many due to the fact that Singer is a conservative Republican. Regardless, it is easy to see why the article was written, as financial backing for the website undoubtedly spoke volumes as to Singer’s stance on the current US administration.
12. Did We Mention He Is Also A Writer?
Considering his unwavering points of view and bulldog business approach, it should not surprise anyone that he has written for the ‘Wall Street Journal’; as a matter of fact, he has written several. Included in his writing resume is an article for the Journal on the Dodd-Frank Act, another that speaks out against raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest, and a 2009 piece entitled ‘Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation. In the latter, Singer put up an argument regarding the lax stance held by monetary policy for so long and the way that our government is urged to lend to those who they knew were unlikely to repay the money. However, it was clear that these particular crisis was sparked and sustained by those individuals who exercised bad judgment, and that to the extreme. He also claimed that it was the private sector that who made the biggest errors, not the public sector, who seemed to be getting all the blame. Singer also gave a speech in September of ’06 at a New York City financial conference that he called, ‘Complexity Made Simple’ that emphasized the mistake in purchasing collateralized debt obligations. He also predicted a slump in the housing market at this time that wasn’t set to occur for another year, at which time the taxpayer-funded bailout was set into motion. And finally, a 2009 interview with Jim Chanos regarding the global financial system.
13. Personal Properties
Besides his private home on New York City’s Upper West Side, Singer owns a home in Aspen, Colorado. It is assumed that the Aspen property is more of a vacation or getaway residence. We can also assume that he likes to ski, as we all know that Aspen is a upscale ski resort town that caters to the super-rich. Well, if I had $3.5 billion I’d buy a house in Aspen, too.
14. Musical Tastes
Paul Singer, surprisingly enough, enjoys Led Zeppelin and Arsenal F.C., and he has even played onstage with Meat Loaf at one time. Not only did he learn classical piano, which he also plays in a family band that also features his two sons and his ‘son-in-law on saxophone’. One of his sons plays drums and the other plays the guitar in the band. It is not clear which one, or if all, sing.
15. Known Connections
Singer has several business and personal associations, of course, but only a handful are significant enough to have garnered the attention to gain them mention. Included in this group are fellow ‘wealthy men’ and hedge funders Ray Dalio, Michael Platt, and Jim Simons. Of course, he can likely always pull his Harvard connections out of his back pocket, not to mention his association with the University of Rochester. It’s always nice to have friends, but it’s even better to have the right friends.
16. When It Comes To Doing Business, He Can Be An Animal
‘Adversarial’…’Combative’…’Vulture Capitalist’…’Doomsday Investor’.
All of these terms have been used at one time or another to describe the aggressive way Paul Singer engages in doing business and making deals. At the same time, his methods are called ‘highly profitable’ and they are blatantly effective; he has gained literal followers because of his ways and his business affect. Well, however you look at it, it’s working out for him. It really takes no real brains to consider the amount of money has made for himself when thinking about the above. Obviously, the methods he uses have worked for him, and like the old saying goes, if it works, don’t fix it…
17. ‘A Signature Elliot Tactic…’
According to an article published by ‘The New Yorker’ last year, Singer likes to focus on ‘buying stock in companies in which he detects weakness’; he then puts the pressure on the company to make changes that he believes will result in a rise in the price of its stock. ‘New Yorker’ writer Sheelah Kohatkar said in her August 20, 2018 article entitled, ‘Doomsday Investor’ that Paul Singer has a ‘uniquely adversarial’ way of doing business’. The man is actually famous for this, as we clarified in the last point, but it is this particular approach that has likely helped him to create the incredible successful tactics he uses when doing business for Elliot Management. One in particular involves sending a letter to the chosen company that gives harsh criticism regarding their CEO; this is often followed up with the company’s receipt of the CEO’s resignation letter, or the flat-out selling of the company in question. This is the way he works, and tactics such as this are the reason he is the victim of such…name calling. But we’re pretty sure he hasn’t lost a minute’s sleep over any of it.
18. Trading With Dad
Singer claims that he actually began his career in finance by doing trading with his father. According to the hedge fund manager, most of his losses were suffered at that time. We’re they painful? It’s probably that they were absolutely painful. But he didn’t run and hid. What he did was take his focus off of the pain and put it on the lesson. He attributes his obsession with risk management (which has helped him to get as far as he has) to those very losses, so none of it was for nothing. They helped make the man.
19. Meeting Athena
Jonathan Bush, founder and CEO of AthenaHealth, which is basically a healthcare program that does the drudge work for doctors and nurses (namely paperwork and coding), had to face the threat of an Elliot takeover. The man had the right attitude and used the situation as a learning experience. While he felt threatened by Singer and his approach, it ended up being the best for his company to comply with Singer and take his advice, as Elliot had become a major shareholder. The truth is that giving in helped the flailing company back onto its feet, and it has been that way with most of the companies that are ‘threatened’ by Singer and Elliot Management. The story of Singer ‘meeting Athena’ shows us all that sometimes aggression is just what we need.
20. Two From Forty-One
Thanks to that very attribute, the risk management obsession, Elliot Management has only suffered financial loss two years out of the forty-one years it has been actively operating…that’s only 5% of it’s existence. Once, during an interview he gave in 2017, he was asked to create the headline for his life…what would it be? After pausing to think it over, he replied, “He tried to make a difference. He protected a lot of people’s capital over a long period of time. He was steady, reliable.” From what we have learned about Paul Singer, we think that sums the man up perfectly.
Paul Singer is one of the most interesting financial figures on Wall Street. From his diversity when it came to his educational studies to the way he does business to the music he listens to, the man stands out from the crowd around him. His net worth of $3.5 billion shows us that, while distasteful to some, his methods are powerful, and he has an extraordinary act for putting them into practice. While he may have caused what some call ‘drama’ over the years, he has made the difference he wanted to make. We can say that Paul Singer’s story will not be easily forgotten on this side of cyberspace, and we are willing to bet that if you read this, it will be remembered on yours, as well. Here’s to choosing what you are going to do and doing it your way…all the way.
You can also read:
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know about International Paper CEO Mark Sutton
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Amgen CEO Robert Bradway
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Toll Brothers CEO Douglas C. Yearly Jr.
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Graybar Electric Co CEO Kathleen M. Mazzarella
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know about KeyCorp CEO Beth Mooney
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee