You would think that someone as Eph-focussed and finance-savvy as me would know about most of the most successful Ephs on Wall Street. You would be wrong! A commentator mentioned that Andreas Halvorsen of Viking Global Investors (love the longboat symbol) is an Eph. Indeed, he is a member of the class of 1986 and the Williams ski team. Comments:

1) Background from 2001.

Fronting the offices of Viking Global Investors high above Park Avenue is a solid, 12-foot-wide wall of clear glass. Still, no matter how you position yourself, the inner workings of the hedge fund are invisible. No chance sightings of Andreas Halvorsen, 39, the chisel-featured Norwegian chief investment officer, or one of the other two partners, David Ott, 37, or Brian Olson, 35–the three former Tiger cubs who run the fund.

There’s considerable buzz within the industry that Viking, cloaked in secrecy, is one of the hottest funds around. But sources say the most auspicious fact about the $2 billion fund is that it was up 89% last year after fees. That’s killer performance in light of 2000’s dismal stock market. Viking, a long-short equity fund that primarily invests in the U.S. and Europe, employs a ”bottom-up” fundamental stock-picking strategy. It focuses on financials, telecommunications, media, technology, and consumer stocks. The fund’s nine analysts meet with some 1,000 companies a year. ”Their core strength is that they’re fantastic business analysts. They can really determine good companies from bad,” says an investor.

Viking’s principals learned their stock-picking skills from Tiger Management Corp., where Halvorsen worked for seven years and was director of global equities his last three. Halvorsen, Ott, and Olson all left Tiger in early 1999, more than a year before the fund imploded. ”They had pretty good timing,” says a source. Each considered starting his own hedge fund until Halvorsen contacted them and suggested they try a team approach. Since Viking was launched in October, 1999, they have recruited 15 of their former Tiger colleagues. Their investors include ”very sophisticated businesspeople who can provide insight in the areas in which they invest,” says an insider.

Making 89% in 2000 is, uh, pretty good. I should spend more time working on my portfolio and less time blogging. You can be sure that the assets flowed in after a year like that.

2) For 2004, Bloomberg reported that

One fund that trailed competitors was Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global Equities Fund, which climbed 7.6 percent last year. Halvorsen, who, like Ainslie, came from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management, founded Greenwich, Connecticut-based Viking Global Investors in 1999 and the firm now manages $3.5 billion. Halvorsen has averaged annual returns of about 25 percent since then.

So, Vikings’ assets did increase from 2000 to 2004 but not by as much as one would have thought. If the fund was up 89% in 2000 and is only up an annualized 25% for the five years from 2000 through 2004, then years 2001 — 2004 were not that good. Exercise for the reader: What were Viking’s returns for those four years and how do they compare to the S&P. (It’s not clear if Viking uses, or should use, the S&P 500 as a benchmark.)

2) After that rough patch, Halvorsen did well for his investors and himself. (If we have any Viking investors among our readers, please give us the details.) In 2006, Halvorsen’s estimated income around $75-100 million.

3) How did Halvorsen do in 2007? Not bad, just #20 on the Trader Monthly 100.

Andreas Halvorsen
City: Greenwich, Connecticut
Firm: Viking Global Investors
Age: 47
Estimated Income: $350–$400 million

Right now, it seems, having once traded at Tiger Management is a license to pillage. The quick rundown on Halvorsen’s Viking quest in 2007: victory! Featuring returns of 40.6 percent in the Viking Global Equities III Ltd. — which was short financials and long India — as well as a pile of 2-and-20 assets now north of $10 billion and a newly launched fund, in 2007 VGI stood for very good indeed.

Love the Entourage reference! Trader Monthly readily admits that they are only estimating annual incomes, but there is no doubt that Halvorsen is one of the richest self-made Ephs of his generation. If he hasn’t already gotten an invitation to be on the Board of Trustees at Williams, he will get one soon. He already serves as an adviser (pdf) to the endowment.

4) Alas, wealth brings problems of its own.

Hedge funds have been producing nasty legal battles for years, and a couple of recent spats seem to be coming to a head. One involves Viking Global, whose lead partners, Andreas Halvorsen and David Ott, are facing a claim from an ex-partner, Brian Olson, that he was wrongfully discharged from the firm three years ago. Halvorsen and Ott say he left on his own.

The trio formed Viking in 1999 after leaving Tiger. Assets are now $10 billion, and majority owner Halvorsen is one of the richest traders in the world. Which is why it made sense for him to try to settle, right? Well, Olson wouldn’t budge, demanding his fair share and laying claim to his stake. He has since filed a new complaint that names all of his former shipmates. A trial could happen later this year, according to a source in the Delaware chancery court clerk’s office.

Perhaps one of our lawyer Eph friends could provide links to the documents for this case.

5) Is it just me or do lots of the richest self-made Ephs of recent years seem to be athletes who played preppy sports at Williams? Besides Halvorsen, we also have Bo Peabody ’94 of Village Ventures (skiing), Chase Coleman ’97 of Tiger Global (lacrosse), Mayo Shattuck ’76 (tennis) and Richard Georgi ’87 of Grove Investors (skiing). I think that several of these Ephs were captains of their teams.

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