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Steven Cohen’s Point72 faces regulatory rebuff in UK

Steve Cohen at Point 72 Asset Management.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Steve Cohen at Point 72 Asset Management.

The family office of Steven Cohen, the billionaire banned from running a hedge fund in the US, has run into a regulatory roadblock in the UK.

Point72, which manages about $11bn of Mr Cohen's personal fortune, has been told in recent months that it would not receive regulatory approval in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority, said people with knowledge of the situation.

One of the people added that it was not clear what Point72 was seeking approval for, but regulatory lawyers said the main reason family offices seek FCA authorisation is to accept and manage other investors' money.

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Family offices are allowed to trade in the UK without the FCA's blessing, but must be approved to oversee anyone else's money. According to regulatory lawyers, family offices may also need FCA approval in order to implement certain changes to the way a fund is structured.

Mr Cohen has given indications he may be planning to raise money for a hedge fund launch next year. He appeared at the annual hedge fund conference Salt in Las Vegas this year, even though he was not scheduled to speak, and told the New York Times in an interview last year he was "leaning" towards opening to outside investors.

The 61-year-old has been focused on overseeing Point72 since his fund, SAC Capital, was banned by the US Securities and Exchange Commission from managing clients' money after admitting to trading on inside information.

A spokesman for Point72 said Mr Cohen has not yet decided whether he will reopen to manage outside money next year, and declined to comment on the FCA's position.

The notification by the FCA does not represent a formal refusal for regulatory approval. Instead, the regulator seeks to give those applying an indication as to whether or not they will be approved, which means that official rejections are rare. The FCA declined to comment.

Once the SEC lifts its ban on Mr Cohen next year, Point72 would have to again seek authorisation from the FCA before opening to outside money in the UK if Mr Cohen decides to reopen to investors.Point72 opened the London office for its family business early last year and hired Will Tovey, formerly the head of Barclays' equities distribution business in Europe, to run it.

Point72 president Douglas Haynes said the office was launching with seven analysts and portfolio managers, but could grow to as large as 70 to 80 people.

Earlier this year, Point72 hired Drew Gillanders, a merger arbitrageur at Och-Ziff Capital Management, to work in London.

SAC Capital pleaded guilty to insider trading in 2013 and paid a record $1.8bn in fines. Mr Cohen was never personally charged with insider trading but several of his portfolio managers were convicted of the crime and sentenced to prison terms.

Mr Cohen has tried to rehabilitate his image through Point72 by using social media, hosting Smart Woman Securities and setting up a trading academy to train college graduates on becoming analysts for the 1,100-employee family office in Stamford, Connecticut.

In April last year Mr Cohen began laying the groundwork for a return to the hedge fund industry by opening a vehicle called Stamford Harbor Capital, which shares the same management team as Point72 and is located next door.

A spokesman for Stamford Harbor said at the time that while Mr Cohen owned the entity, he would not supervise the fund because of the ban.

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