The femme fatale of short selling’s interesting first year

IMG_0092.JPGIt’s night in New York City. Steam from a manhole billows across Wall Street. An American flag flies in the foreground as a camera pans from an office overlooking the city’s lights to a solitary woman watching her Bloomberg terminal flash the plummeting stock chart of Canadian drug company Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

With the Empire State Building in the background, Fahmi Quadir comes into full view. “I was always this Pollyanna growing up,” she says — the first words uttered in her starring role in the Netflix documentary series Dirty Money, whose third episode, “Drug Short,” tells the epic tale of the Wall Street battle over Valeant, which lost 90 percent of its value between 2015 and 2016, taking down billionaires and making an internet heroine of Quadir, one of a small group of short sellers who bet, correctly, that the drug company’s price gouging, questionable tactics, and massive debt burden could not be sustained.

Yet the film’s noirish setting takes Quadir far beyond the world of Pollyanna. Instead, it casts her as something of an exotic femme fatale, continually draped in dark: dark hair, dark nail polish, dark, deep purple suede designer dress.

“I do my work in the shadows,” she says in a later scene, riding in a taxi through the streets of Manhattan, her dark eyes shielded from the sun by mirrored sunglasses.

Few people had ever heard of Quadir before the release of Dirty Money in January of last year. She has since stepped out of the shadows. At the age of 27 — after working only two years as an analyst at the small hedge fund that had shorted Valeant — Quadir launched her own hedge fund last January. The child of Bangladeshi immigrants who settled in the Long Island town of New Hyde Park, the young woman called her new firm Safkhet Capital, named after the Egyptian goddess of mathematics and wisdom.

Fortune favors the bold: 2018 would end with a market meltdown that left famous hedge fund managers nursing losses and facing redemptions. Quadir, on the other hand, is on the upswing. She starts 2019 with more than $35 million and five investors, with most of them signing up during the second half of last year. She’s also boasting a net gain of 24.14 percent during a year when the S&P 500 fell 4.4 percent.

Here’s the full story on Institutional Investor:




One comment

  1. Michelle,

    Really good piece. Hope you are well and had a nice holiday break.


    Transmitted with no assumption of privacy.



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