Legendary investor T. Boone Pickens said on Friday he had closed his Dallas-based energy hedge fund after health and financial upsets, the latest oil-focused fund to report setbacks. "But for me, personally, trading oil is not as intriguing to me as it once was", Pickens said. He is still recovering from a serious fall last summer and suffered a series of strokes in late 2016. Going forward, he said, the BP Capital Fund would move toward a "family office structure", and key members of the fund will be striking out on their own.
And the energy market has not been kind in recent years. The oil crash that began in 2014 roiled several energy-focused funds as prices fell by more than 70%. Andy Hall, the trader known as "God", shut his main fund in August after it slumped nearly 30 percent in the first half of previous year. The second came in 1996, when he resigned from Mesa Petroleum, which he had founded and led as CEO for almost 40 years.
Pickens gained notoriety and celebrity in the 1980s as a dealmaker who launched leveraged buyouts of oil companies including Phillips Petroleum Co, Gulf Oil Corp and Unocal Corp. Even though many did not succeed, he and his investors made substantial money from the sale of stock of his target companies.
That willingness to sell his shares back to the company at a premium, a practice known as "greenmail", led to accusations he was not interested in improving or running the companies he challenged.
In the latest Forbes Magazine listing, Pickens's net worth is listed at $950 million in 2013, reflecting losses from the 2008 financial crisis, hundreds of millions Pickens spent on philanthropy (including about $500 million to Oklahoma State University, his alma mater) and investments in wind energy, part of his plan to end US dependence on Middle East oil. He spent in excess of $100 million to promote the effort, a spokesman said. While the number of hedge funds shutting operations declined a year ago, there were still 66 more firms closing than starting, Eurekahedge data show.
Pickens remains involved in his charitable foundation and on the board of Clean Energy Fuels Corp, which operates natural gas refueling stations.