John Paulson Is Planning to Move His Hedge Fund Into Steinway OfficesBy and
Firm’s shift to 1133 Avenue of the Americas coming this year
Headcount and assets are down at the New York-based hedge fund
Call John Paulson the Piano Man.
The billionaire plans to move his hedge fund company’s New York headquarters later this year to the offices of Steinway Musical Instruments, the piano maker he purchased in 2013, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Paulson & Co., which has seen headcount fall and assets dwindle, will leave the space it’s occupied for a decade at 1251 Avenue of the Americas after its lease expires in the summer, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The manager, who shot to fame a decade ago with his bet that the U.S. housing market would collapse, will take over Steinway’s remaining long-term lease of corporate space at 1133 Avenue of the Americas.
The staff now totals about 95 people at Paulson, one of the people said. That’s down from 128 in 2016, a regulatory filing shows. It’s another step in the remarkable turn for the $9 billion company, which at its peak in 2011 oversaw $38 billion -- half of which belonged to outside investors. After a string of missteps that led to poor performance and withdrawals, the firm now mostly manages Paulson’s own fortune, with roughly 20 percent of assets from clients, Bloomberg reported in January.
Because Paulson and his employees don’t have to pay fees on at least some of their internal investments, the new capital composition may make it harder for the firm to operate and pay staff.
In July, Paulson announced the departure of money manager Guy Levy and his team, which oversaw a long-short equity fund that ran about 5 percent of the firm’s assets, as well as Jim Wong, the head of investor relations. Seven other people from the company’s investor relations team have also left the firm. Sheru Chowdhry, who co-managed the Paulson Credit Opportunities fund, left in June, and Nitin Dahiya, an analyst who focused on credit, recently left the firm, according to another person with knowledge of the matter.
Steinway is consolidating corporate functions to offices in Astoria, Queens, where the company has a factory. Paulson, who grew up in a family of piano players, has said he realized the value of the renowned brand after his father bought a baby grand piano that wasn’t a Steinway, bringing his sister to tears.
The 165-year-old company was purchased by Paulson for $512 million in one of the hedge fund firm’s first levered buyouts, and a year later moved from its storied building on West 57th street to the more modern space about 14 blocks away. Steinway’s annual revenues are about $400 million, Moody’s Investors Service wrote in a Feb. 7 report, up from $354 million in 2012.
A representative for the firm declined to comment.