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Odey Asset Management has vacated its long-standing Mayfair office, closing the doors of one of London’s oldest hedge fund headquarters, after sexual assault allegations against founder Crispin Odey forced the company to wind up.
According to a filing with Companies House on Wednesday, staff at the dwindling company have relocated from Upper Brook Street to service offices at 64 North Row, a short walk away. The new space will be operated by One Avenue, which describes it as “luxury” and “state of the art” on its website.
Crispin Odey founded his eponymous hedge fund firm on Upper Grosvenor Street in Mayfair in 1991 before expanding and then moving to a building near Upper Brook Street. The Upper Brook Street offices were famous for their opulent basement dining room with floor-to-ceiling wine racks, where lunch was often served from the nearby Michelin-starred Le Gavroche restaurant.
The headquarters lease on Upper Brook Street is still owned by the financier, who was fired from his firm in response to allegations against him, which he strenuously denies. According to the land registry, Crispin Odey owns the property through two holding companies whose registered address in Companies House is still Upper Brook Street.
It’s unclear if he intends to continue using the offices after his former colleagues move out. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In June, a Financial Times investigation detailing allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Crispin Odey by 13 women plunged the company into a crisis as key banking partners quickly severed ties and investors sought to steal her to withdraw money. Last month, the Financial Times reported similar allegations against him by six other women.
Despite his departure from the company, Odey Asset Management was unable to successfully disassociate itself from its founder and was instead forced to embark on a wind-down plan. The company had to suspend or close certain funds while transferring fund managers to competitors.
James Hanbury, star fund manager at the firm’s subsidiary Brook Asset Management, has agreed to move his team to boutique advisory firm Lancaster Investment Management. Hanbury’s Absolute Return fund, which has £369m under management according to the company’s website, was one of a number of funds to suspend withdrawals in June as the company tried to contain the crisis. Hanbury’s move was agreed last month and the fund has since reopened.
In June, Odey Asset Management said it was in “advanced discussions” to transfer Oliver Kelton and four funds he manages to investment boutique SW Mitchell Capital. The largest of these is Brook European Focus, which has €602 million in assets under management, according to the company’s website.
Freddie Neave, who has taken over the helm of OEI Mac, one of Crispin Odey’s flagship funds, is currently in negotiations to move to Landseer Asset Management and switch shareholder investments to a new fund as part of a reorganization announced in July.
Two other funds previously managed by Crispin Odey have been fully wound up, with Odey Portfolio already closed and Odey Swan set to buy back investors by September 4th.
The UK Financial Services Authority’s investigation into Odey Asset Management and Crispin Odey is ongoing. Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority set out the scope of its investigations in a letter to the Treasury Department’s Special Committee.
The FCA is investigating Odey Asset Management for possible breaches of the regulator’s business policies, including “failure to conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence”. Crispin Odey’s investigation is focused on whether he is “suitable and fit” to work in the financial services industry, which, if found, would bar him from future positions.
Jill Greenfield, a lawyer at Fieldfisher who is representing two of its alleged victims, has asked the FCA to shield assets at Odey Asset Management to ensure money is available to pay any future compensation to the victims while the women pursue potential litigation check.
Odey Asset Management declined to comment.
Video: Crispin Odey: The Fall of a Hedge Fund Outsider | FT movie
Source : www.ft.com