Billionaire Paul Singer, founder of hedge fund Elliott Management, is a polarizing figure. As an activist investor – who tries to shake up boardrooms or challenge corporate leadership – he is admired by many investors but demonized by those he targets for his contentious fights. A 15-year battle with the government of Argentina earned him the label of a vulture, and the CEO of a company his fund targeted recently sent a letter to Singer with veiled threats.
Singer says that image plays to his benefit. In an interview Wednesday at the Bloomberg Invest Summit in New York, Singer said he’s learned not to “care too much about opprobrium and unfair press. There’s a part of this equation that’s functional.”
He added: “If that’s the reputation we have, backed by having the money and the process and generally sound thinking about the positions, it’s good when a corporate executive opens the mail or the email or picks up the phone and listens with the understanding that we are real, that we have the capacity to carry through and the history of carrying through on the projects that we undertake.”
Singer’s fund recently raised $5 billion in about 24 hours, telling investors that it expected the capital would be deployed as it expected “all hell to break loose” in the markets. The fund also set in motion the resignation of Arconic CEO Klaus Kleinfeld, and gained the right to have a say in naming the next CEO.