poolside cabanas at the AlphaMetrix Miami 2013
MIAMI -- There is beachfront yoga, cocktails at the
cabanas and--the ostensible reason for the trip--actual
one-on-one meetings to discuss hedge fund allocations. But as
more than one thousand hedge funders gathered here on opening
night in the "Glimmer" ballroom at the palatial Fontainebleau
Hotel for the AlphaMetrix Miami 2013 Summit, all eyes were on
former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
That is, at least, until the doors to the outdoor
buffet flung open.
"The six people in the front are the only people
listening to us," AlphaMetrix President Aleks Kins noted dryly
as hundreds of well-dressed men and women exited their tables
en-masse to be the first to attack the spread of rock shrimp
ceviche, Cuban-style chicken and beef churrasco with chimichurri
The room of hedge fund managers, investors and
service providers could be forgiven, perhaps, for their
momentary impoliteness. After all, just minutes earlier, Bush
had promised them the run of the place as long as they keep
plowing their hard-earned dough into the Sunshine State (the
cost of attendance for a service provider went for about $5,000
per person, said one attendee, and parking lot-view rooms at
the host resort went for well over $400 with taxes and fees.
Sponsorships approached the six-figure territory, another
"I come to thank you for making sure that
Floridians never have to pay a sales tax," Bush said to rising
"If you live in a place like California,
Connecticut or New York that doesn't see the value of not
having an income tax, you're more than welcome to move here,"
added the Republican.
That idea is not entirely outlandish. Such Billion Dollar Club firms as III Offshore
Advisors and Everest Capital Ltd. are based in the state, and
Eddie Lampert's ESL Investments famously exited Greenwich,
Conn. last year for new digs in Tampa.
Most of Bush's 30 minute speech and subsequent 20
minute Q&A was focused on energy and immigration, and he
made no mention of a potential 2016 run for President. On the
former topic, Bush said he was on the side of T. Boone Pickens,
the billionaire founder of oil and gas-focused hedge fund BP
Capital Management. Last year at the
Milken Global Institute Conference and Las Vegas hedge fund
conference SALT, one of the only other events to rival
AlphaMetrix in sheer scale, Pickens advocated for America to
develop its own natural gas reserves.
"I'm a big fan of the Pickens plan," Bush said,
adding with a slight devilish look: "Let's just say it's
enlightened self-interest that he's for what he's for."
By that point, his remarks had moved more towards
standup than stump speech (crickets might have been heard amid
the silent response to "Anyone from Chicago here? Great place,
crappy airport"). Bush brought it back to mainstream hedge fund
philosophy by the end in response to a crowd question on the
state of the economy.
Summing up his view of government regulation of all
industries, including hedge funds, he borrowed a bit from the
Hippocratic Oath: "Do no harm, and chill out a little bit."