John Paulson to Start Fund to Reduce Clients’ Tax Bills

Billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson, who last month considered a move to Puerto Rico to lower his tax bill, is starting a fund to help investors reduce the amount they owe to the U.S. government.

Paulson’s $18 billion hedge-fund firm invited prospective clients to an April 24 event at Paulson & Co.’s New York offices, where the 57-year-old founder will talk about the Paulson Partners Premium LP Fund, described as a “risk-arbitrage fund for investors looking to mitigate income taxes.” The 75-minute presentation will include a 15-minute discussion of tax-deferred or tax-free investing in the fund, according to the invitation, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

“He seems to be more focused on avoiding income taxes than on generating returns for his investors,” said Brad Alford, head of Atlanta-based Alpha Capital Management LLC, who runs a mutual fund of funds that invests in hedge funds. “It gives billionaires a bad name.”

Paulson, a lifelong New Yorker who became a billionaire in 2007 by betting against subprime mortgages, considered moving to Puerto Rico to take advantage of a favorable new tax law before scrapping the idea last month. He’s trying to rebound from two years of losses in some investment strategies.

Armel Leslie of Walek & Associates, a spokesman for the firm, declined to comment on the planned fund.

Paulson’s Advantage Plus Fund, once part of the firm’s largest strategy, has fallen about 58 percent from the end of 2010 through March, meaning investors have paid no taxes on the fund in the last two years. All five of Paulson’s strategies began the year below their so-called high-water marks, putting longer-term clients in a favorable tax position.

Merger Funds

Paulson and his employees may benefit from the new fund, as they account for more than 60 percent of the firm’s assets.

Paulson’s merger fund returned an average of 15 percent from 1994 to the end of last year, and a leveraged version gained 19 percent a year since its 2003 inception. Those funds surpassed their high-water marks in the first quarter.

Bloomberg News reported March 11 that Paulson had been exploring a move to Puerto Rico, where a new law would eliminate taxes on gains from the $9.5 billion he has invested in his own hedge funds, according to people who spoke to him about a possible relocation. Four days later, his firm said he wouldn’t set up a permanent residence there.

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