Whereas we have already noted that Dan Loeb's Third Point closed 2011 unchanged due to a disappointing December, today we note that according to his latest monthly performance update Loeb appears to have opened a major new position in the bonds of recently troubled Norwegian financial company Eksportfinans ASA. The chart below compares his October and December top holdings in which it is obvious that as of December 31, Third Point's third largest position is in the bonds of the private guarantor, which recently got in trouble following its downgrade to junk status in late November as Oslo withdrew its support. the result was a sharp drop lower in the bonds of the company, which traded down by 20 points on the news. So what is Loeb seeing here that makes him confident the bonds, all $33 billion of them, the bulk of which are Samurai, or yen-denominated, will surge sooner or later: another TBTF scenario, bond call play, or something else? One thing is certain: the 13F chasing lemmingrati will promptly jump in these bonds and take them much higher even if absolutely clueless why.
Third point top holdings before:
and after -note #3:
Some color on Eksportfinance from the FT:
Norway’s Eksportfinans, a partially state-owned company that gives government-guaranteed loans to foreigners to buy the country’s exports, has been downgraded to junk by Moody’s Investors Service after Oslo withdrew support.
The Norwegian government’s decision not to grant Eksportfinans permission to sidestep European Union capital requirements that limit concentrations of large loans “has almost eliminated its franchise and business model”, Moody’s said
“It also implies that the government lacks commitment towards Eksportfinans,” the rating agency added.
Moody’s cut Eksportfinans’ rating to Ba1 from Aa3, a seven-notch downgrade, and left them on review for further cuts.
The move triggered forced selling of its bonds by investors that are only allowed to own investment grade debt, analysts said.
Eksportfinans had NKr192bn ($33bn) of outstanding debts at the end of the third quarter, much of it so-called yen-denominated “Samurai bonds”, and the lack of clarity over how the company’s debts will now be handled has rattled the market for state-linked and supranational borrowers.
Norway is not part of the 27-member EU but has to accept much of the organisation’s legislation due to its membership of the EEA.
In place of Eksportfinans, the government said last week that it will prop up its export industry directly with as much as NKr30bn over fears that the eurozone’s debt crisis and flagging growth will take its toll on Norway’s most important trade partners.
The measure indicates that “the government considers that Eksportfinans lacks the capacity to provide a relevant service to the Norwegian export-finance industry, which is skewed toward industries such as shipping, energy and other industries, which often require large loans”, Moody’s said.
And full letter: