He’s one of the UK’s best-known hedge fund managers but, come 28 September, Crispin Odey’s career is likely to hang in tatters. The founding partner of Odey Asset Management, 61, has been charged with indecent assault following a complaint made by a woman over an incident which allegedly took place at an address on Swan Walk, Chelsea (where Mr Odey owns a property) in July 1998. The Metropolitan Police brought charges against Odey this May, which he denies, telling the FT he will “strongly contest this matter.”
Whatever the outcome, it’s likely that Odey – who has vocally supported Boris Johnson and Brexit – will, at the very least, no longer continue in his role as founding partner of Odey Asset Management (a company which Odey claimed managed assets worth $6.5 to $7 billion as of 2011).
According to a Sunday Times article from 16 August, Odey Asset Management is preparing an emergency scheme to manage the firm’s future should Odey be convicted. This reportedly involves the closure of his European fund, with investors receiving their money back. The company’s ‘retail’ funds will reportedly be handed over to his colleagues James Hanbury and Oliver Kelton.
All of which may be of little consequence to Odey; according to the 2019 Sunday Times Rich List, he and his wife Nichola Pease (herself chairwoman of Jupiter Asset Management) are worth a combined £775 million, making them among the richest hedge fund managers in the UK.
But, while this assault allegation is certainly the most serious of the controversies surrounding Odey, it is by no means the first time he has garnered headlines for the wrong reasons. With his future uncertain, we look back at Odey’s rise to power, a rise that includes shorting the markets, betting against the pound, and reaping huge profits at times when people across the globe suffered the most.
“Crispin Odey, 58, is a throwback to the 1980s. An habitué of White’s club and the grouse moor, he’s a Bunterish, helium-voiced roisterer of unfashionable opinions with messy Boris Johnson-style hair, a laugh like a drain and lapels on his suits wider than the M25,” This Is Money’s ‘The Dastardly Mr Deeds’ once wrote of Odey.
Pointing out that Odey Asset Management was down 49.5 per cent in 2016 and down another 20 per cent in 2017, the author continued: “[Odey’s] failure bears testament to the FTSE’s dogged resilience over the past two years. The bulk of Odey’s £775 million fortune is derived from short-selling, the aggressive practice of betting against a company’s share price.”
Born in East Yorkshire, Odey’s father was an industrialist while his grandfather, once the Conservative MP for Beverley, was, in Odey’s own words, “a formidable bully”. His mother was descended from a family of wealthy merchants. Odey graduated from Oxford in 1980 with a degree in history and economics. Shortly thereafter, he was put in charge of the 4,000-acre Hotham Hall which had been in his mother’s family since 1720 and sold it a few years later to sell off his father’s debts. His father, according to Odey was a “wastrel from beginning to end” and depended on handouts from his son.
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