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Steve Cohen's right-hand man makes surprise exit from family office

By Michael Finnigan

Thomas Conheeney, the long-serving president of Steven A Cohen's hedge fund SAC Capital, which pleaded guilty to insider trading last year, has stepped down from the organisation, less than a year after it converted to a family office.

Conheeney, 50, will be replaced by Douglas Haynes, 48, a former director at consultancy firm McKinsey & Co, but will remain on in an advisory role until the end of the year.

Cohen said in a statement that he had worked with Haynes for several years on the board of New York poverty action charity the Robin Hood Foundation and was impressed by his work there so asked him to head his family office.

In praise of his outgoing president, Cohen said Conheeney grew SAC Capital, renamed Point72 when it became a family office, into “one of the world's most successful hedge funds”.

“Among his many accomplishments, he led us through the 2008 financial crisis, the 2010 aftershocks and the crisis following the revelation of insider trading by former employees at the firm,” Cohen said.

While Cohen described the departure as amicable, Conheeney's swift exit comes as a surprise considering the former president was one of SAC's most vocal defenders during its insider trading investigation, which concluded in April this year with a settlement of $1.2 billion (€900 million).

SAC Capital has been under investigation for insider trading since 2007. 

So far a total of eight former SAC Capital employees have been found guilty, including portfolio manager Michael Steinberg who was accused of using inside information to make $1.4 million in profits for SAC Capital.

In November, SAC Capital agreed to plead guilty to insider trader and return all money to external investors, retaining only the capital of Cohen and his employees.

In a statement Haynes said he looked forward to pursuing the family office's goal of being the industry's premiere asset management firm that “adheres to the highest ethical standards”.

Under Conheeney's lead, SAC Capital managed around and 1,000 employees and managed a reported $16 billion in assets.

Since transforming into family office Point72 Asset Management, Cohen has downsized operations to employ around 850 employees. Point72's website said it focuses primarily on discretionary long/short equity investing and makes significant quantitative and macro investments.

The family office is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and maintains offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Boston and New York.

Conheeney plans to spend more time with his family and on charitable endeavours.

Since the passing of the Dodd-Frank Act, several large hedge funds have transitioned into family offices.

George Soros' Soros Fund Management closed in 2011, and Millbrook Capital Management, which became a family office for its founder, John Dyson, closed last year – however, unlike SAC Capital, neither had been investigated for breaking federal laws.