Activist Investor Hymowitz Focuses on “Evolving”

When EnTrustPermal’s chief executive Gregg Hymowitz sat with the performer Usher at a friend’s wedding in 2012, he asked the celebrity how he made the transition from child artist to adult star, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Usher’s answer: “Evolve or evaporate.”

The phrase, says Hymowitz, has become his business motto and the force behind his becoming one of the biggest activist investors on Wall Street, the article says. In May, Hymowitz approved a $650 million investment in Nestlé alongside hedge fund Third Point LLC.” Mr. Hymowitz’s willingness to write such large checks on short notice makes the 51-year-old a potent weapon when managers are quietly trying to amass meaningful stakes in companies,” according to the article.

EnTrustPermal, which claims to have $24.5 billion in assets under management (as of the end of May) is described as a “fund-of-hedge-funds firm; it pools clients’ money and invests in a range of hedge funds, charging a layer of fees on top of the fees charged by hedge-fund managers themselves.” Since many of the hedge funds the firm invests in have showed lackluster performance, however, clients are becoming less willing to pay the additional fees–as evidenced by an outflow of investor dollars from these funds every year since 2007.

EnTrustPermal has also felt the pinch, as its assets under management (through the end of March) have shrunk by 15% since January 2016. On the flip side, however, the firm has been able to attract new clients through it co-investment activities.