Hedge fund founder's buy-back plan rejected

INVESTORS HAVE rejected attempts by John Meriwether, the founder of Long-Term Capital Management to buy back the hedge fund from the consortium which bailed the troubled firm out at the height of the financial crisis last September.

Mr Meriwether, a former Salomon Brothers trader, whose attempts to beat the market rattled the world financial system last year, has spent the recent weeks touring investors and lenders worldwide in an effort to drum up interest for a bid to buy back the fund.

Britain's Barclays Bank is among the 14 banks which participated in last September's bail-out that would be keen to sell if it an opportunity to get out at a profit presented itself. Lehman Brothers and Banker Trust, the US bank currently in the throes of a merger with Germany's Deutsche Bank are also rumoured to be pressing for an early exit. Members of the oversight committee, made up of six of the 14 banks that participated in the buyout, met in New York last week to discuss plans for the fund's future.

Options include accelerating the process of liquidating the fund's holdings with a view of repaying some of the consortium's investments, or looking for a buyer for the funds' assets.

Mr Meriwether was left with a three per cent holding in the fund after the bailout and has made little secret of his desire to buy it back again.

Since the bailout, with the help of the strong rebound in the confidence of the major financial market, the assets in the fund have appreciated by 15 per cent. However, investors say that they are still far from ready to put their trust in a man whom they hold responsible for the initial collapse.

"He seems to think he has just taken a loan and now the markets have recovered he can pay it back," said one cynical observer. "But I think his rehabilitation will take somewhat longer."