Arthur Samberg, Founder of Hedge Fund Pequot, Dies at 79

Arthur Samberg, the founder of Pequot Capital Management Inc., once the world’s largest hedge fund, has died. He was 79.

Samberg died on July 14, according to a notice published in the New York Times. He had leukemia, according to an obituary on the Beecher Flooks Funeral Home’s website.

“He was a very intelligent guy, very hard-working, smart and successful,” Leon Cooperman, the billionaire founder of Omega Advisers, who was friends with Samberg for 55 years, said in a phone interview Sunday. “He never forgot where came from, he shared his success with others less fortunate, he was self-achieved.”

Samberg had a 40-year career as an investor, starting his first fund, Pequot Partners, while at money-management firm Dawson-Samberg Capital Management Inc. He spun off Pequot Capital -- named for a street address in Connecticut -- at the start of 1999, and by 2001 the firm had $15 billion in assets, making it the biggest hedge fund.

That fact -- the result of George Soros and Julian Robertson closing down their firms to outside investors -- was revealed in a Wall Street Journal story, thrusting the low-profile Samberg into the limelight.

“My success in life is taking decent expertise in technology and combining it with finance and trying to apply those two things to help companies aggregate capital and grow and create jobs,” Samberg said in a 2015 Bloomberg Radio interview. “I care about solving the world’s problems and getting rich while doing it, because the two actually do work together.”

SEC Settlement

Samberg’s time atop the hedge fund world didn’t last long. By May 2009, Samberg told investors he planned to liquidate his main hedge funds after an insider-trading investigation “cast a cloud” over the firm. A year later, Pequot and Samberg agreed to pay almost $28 million to settle regulatory claims they illegally tapped information from a Microsoft Corp. employee to bet on the software maker’s stock in 2001. Samberg and Pequot didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing when agreeing to settle.

“It’s nothing you like to go to your grave with, and have your grandkids Google and find out about, but I was convinced at the time it was the right decision,” Samberg said in 2015 of the settlement.

Following the closing of the fund, he and his two sons, Jeff and Joe, managed family entities, with an emphasis on technology-based venture capital, for 15 years. TAE Technologies Inc., a company that says its mission is to create a new source of clean energy, paid tribute to Samberg’s role in the firm’s development. His family office has been a lead investor since the company’s formation in 1998.

“It is thanks to his unwavering support, audacious vision, and generous spirit that we are now on the cusp of the transformational clean energy solution he was so determined to help bring to the world,” TAE said in a statement.

Samberg was born in the Bronx on Feb. 6, 1941, and his family moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, when he was 8 years old. Samberg had a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Stanford University and a master of business administration from Columbia University.

He met fellow investors Cooperman and Mario Gabelli while attending Columbia. In 2013, Samberg and Gabelli pledged a combined $40 million to Columbia Business School to help fund a new campus, with Samberg donating $25 million of the total.

At a Jazz at Lincoln Center gala last year, Samberg, who attended with his wife, said he didn’t have much exposure to music during childhood but got into jazz when he traveled to Cuba.

Samberg is survived by his wife Becky, his two sons, his daughter Laura and seven grandchildren.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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