Hedge Fund Tycoon — and Co-Owner of Variety — Tried Three Times to Have Deadline.com’s Nikki Finke Fired, Vanity Fair Reports

Oct 31, 2013  •  Post A Comment

A hedge fund tycoon — who is also the co-owner of Variety — tried three times to have Deadline.com founder and editor in chief Nikki Finke fired, reports Vanity Fair.

The online summary of the report says that Dan Loeb, who runs the "$14 billion hedge fund Third Point Capital," "tried to get star columnist Nikki Finke fired no fewer than three times, says a source in a December profile of the hedge funder by William D. Cohan."

Online, Vanity Fair only published a summary of the full article, which is in its print edition.

The summary continues: "Loeb, adds the source, tried to have Deadline boss Jay Penske keep Finke quiet after she criticized him, and his relationship with Penske, on the site’s blog. (A spokesperson for Penske claims that Loeb has never discussed editorial direction for Deadline.)"

The summary explains: "Loeb entered the picture in 2012, when Penske acquired Deadline competitor Variety. Loeb’s $14 billion hedge fund, Third Point Capital, helped finance the $25 million purchase (in exchange for a stake of about 20 percent)."

The summary continues: "Finke’s acute displeasure with Loeb became public this August, after Loeb filed two disparaging investor letters to Sony (in which he holds a billion-dollar position)."

At one point, according to the summary, Finke wrote: "I hope Hollywood expresses its disdain for Loeb’s despicable tactics by not reading or advertising in Variety, the in-house newsletter he owns with my boss Jay Penske. Loeb should learn his actions have consequences — even if his Variety investment is flea-sized for a billionaire who made $500M off a single Greek bond bet."

The summary adds: "According to the insider, Loeb tried to have Penske muzzle Finke. ‘I guess the only person who is allowed to have free speech is Daniel Loeb,’ the insider told Cohan. ‘I think that Jay has been embarrassed about being his partner because this guy is destabilizing Hollywood and Jay’s companies are dependent on Hollywood’s advertising.’ (A spokesperson for Penske says, ‘We are far from embarrassed about having one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, which is known as a serial value creator, as its equity partner on the Variety acquisition.’)"

The summary also notes about this Finke piece about Loeb: "According to The Wall Street Journal, the post was taken down [from the Deadline.com site] and then mysteriously reappeared."

Finke has written a number of times about her displeasure with how Penske has managed Variety.

Recently, as we’ve previously reported, Finke has said she will be leaving Deadline.com, though she has not said exactly when that will happen, and is still with the publication. The headline Vanity Fair online has on its summary that was published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, reads, "Did Dan Loeb Play a Role in Nikki Finke’s Exit From Deadline Hollywood?"

William Cohan, the author of the actual article that talks about Loeb and Finke in the December print edition of Vanity Fair, is a contributing editor for the magazine. He’s a graduate of both the Columbia University School of Journalism and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business. Earlier in his career, according to Wikipedia, Cohan "worked on Wall Street for 17 years. He spent six years at Lazard Freres in New York, then Merrill Lynch & Co., and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase.

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