Earlier this month the Guardian front paged a story revealing that the City of London accounted for £11.4 million of the Conservative Party’s funding in 2009 – 10, in lurid terms we learned of the millions passed to Tory coffers by rich hedge fund managers. Guido can reveal that during that same period the Guardian Media Group’s coffers gained £39.3 million from investments in hedge funds. More than three times as much as they castigated the Tories for taking from hedgies…
GMG owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers, where journalists and columnists rail against the City, hedge funds and the short-termism of pin-striped financial traders. Documents obtained by Guido reveal that the GMG board approved investments now totalling £223.8 million in speculative funds in a range of assets. Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, sat on the board which approved the hedge fund investment plan, the board was at the time chaired by Paul Myners who also sat on the board of GLG partners, a hedge fund which is widely reported to have made big profits shorting UK banks.
The funds are traded by a number of specialist fund managers, overseen by the giant U.S. based asset manager Cambridge Associates. Cambridge Associates is a secretive, privately held firm with a client list which includes billionaires and government sovereign wealth funds. Guido has discovered that the £223.8 million is invested in emerging markets, bonds and hedge funds. The investments are principally in US Dollars and offshore from the UK.
These short-term funds are in addition to the GMG assets held in Cayman Islands domiciled corporations where the rate of corporation tax is zero. Sources suggest that GMG has between £300 million and £500 million held offshore in these opaque special purpose vehicles. Such tax haven domiciled corporate vehicles are used to shield assets from tax. Guido has discovered that one GMG controlled Caymans corporation was incorporated as recently as March 2008, a mere 5 months before the banking crisis wreaked havoc on the global economy.
So far GMG has ignored embarrassing questions posed since the winding up of the old Scott Trust. What Guido and many confused Guardian readers would like to know is how the use of these opaque investment vehicles is compatible with the public positions taken by the newspapers and even members of the board. Will Hutton for example is a former editor of the Observer who sits alongside Alan Rusbridger on the board of the Scott Trust Foundation. Is Hutton, a noted campaigner against hedge funds, comfortable with GMG having hundreds of millions in assets both offshore and invested in hedge funds? Are the perennially loss making Guardian newspaper’s columnists like Polly Toynbee happy to have their six-figure salaries paid out of the profits of hedge fund raids on the currencies of emerging market countries? Isn’t it about time the Guardian’s senior executives explained openly and honestly to its readers how it really survives despite losing money every year?