Bill Hwang: a biography of an Asian financier
Bill Hwang is a renowned Korean investor who succeeded in the US and led one of the country’s most significant hedge funds.
The businessman was born in Korea in 1964. His real name is Song Kuk Hwan. But after moving to the USA in 1982, he had to change it for a more understandable name – Bill. He was educated in economics at the University of California and then took a master’s degree in business administration in Pittsburgh.
Hwang is one of the most successful students of the famous investor Julian Robertson, head of the hedge fund Tiger Management. The latter spotted Bill when he was 33. At the time, Hwang was working in one of the subsidiaries of Hyundai Corporation. Seeing the young man’s potential, Robertson offered Bill an analyst position with his fund, and he accepted.
The Tiger Asia hedge fund
In 2000 Hwang set up his hedge fund, Tiger Asia, which initially focused exclusively on Asian companies. The financier’s real success came after seven years when he managed to make a profit of 40%. However, this income could not cover the losses incurred by the company due to the financial crisis in 2008.
The losses at the time amounted to 23%, which provoked the departure of many clients. Before the fund fully recovered, it was charged in 2012 with insider trading and fraudulent dealing in Chinese bank shares. As a result of the investigation, Hwang’s company had to pay $60 million to settle all charges. Bill was banned from trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange until 2018.
However, Hwang did not give up. In 2013, he established his own business, Archegos, which operated as a family office. The company’s capital consisted only of the investor’s personal funds of $200 million.
The family business did well; by 2020, the company’s capital reached $200 billion. The main key to success was a strategy that used leverage. One of the lenders was Goldman Bank.
A black streak began in 2021 when Viacom Archegos had to go over the margin due to declining shares. The situation became alarming for brokers. After Morgan Stanley sold Hwang’s fund shares, others followed suit. As a result, Archegos lost $10 billion.
In April 2022, Bill Hwang was charged with insider trading and manipulating stock exchange processes for personal gain.