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Robbins Says Default Fear Will Bring Buying Opportunity

Clifton Robbins, founder and chief executive officer of investment firm Blue Harbour Group LP, said he is waiting for fear of a U.S. default to hurt financial markets because it will bring an opportunity to buy assets.

“We’re not going to default -- I am waiting for the fear because I am a buyer,” Robbins said today at the Wall Street Journal’s Heard on the Street conference in New York. “I’m not looking forward to that day, and I hope Washington sorts things out, but it will be a good buying opportunity.”

Robbins, whose Greenwich, Connecticut-based firm oversees about $1.6 billion, said he is already buying assets and will be even more aggressive in doing so as the deadline for the U.S. to raise its debt limit comes closer.

U.S. stocks fell today as lawmakers remained deadlocked over raising the limit to avoid a default. Barring a congressional shift, the U.S. will exhaust its borrowing authority on Oct. 17 and would run out of funds to pay all of its bills sometime between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Bruce Richards, who runs hedge-fund firm Marathon Asset Management LP, said on the same conference panel that while he doesn’t expect the U.S. to default on its debt, complacency in the financial markets may disappear next week.

“When you come closer to Oct. 17, the more risk and uncertainty and we will move from complacency to fear,” said Richards, whose firm is based in New York. “We don’t have that fear right now. Maybe distrust.”

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