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Hedge fund in bond lawsuit owns derivatives that will pay off if Illinois defaults on the debt

Friday, Aug 16, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Click here for some background if you need it. Bloomberg

Warlander Asset Management, the hedge fund seeking to invalidate $14.3 billion of Illinois bonds, bought derivatives that will pay off if the state defaults on the debt.

An attorney for Warlander’s co-plaintiff, John Tillman, the chief executive officer of the Illinois Policy Institute, disclosed the firm’s derivative wager at a hearing in Springfield on Thursday. That confirms the assertion made by two big bond investors, Nuveen Asset Management LLC and AllianceBernstein, in a brief arguing that the case should be tossed out — saying it raises questions about Warlander’s motives.

“Permitting activist investors to litigate against the validity of widely held municipal bonds based on their credit default swap bets could introduce a significant destabilizing force into the municipal markets and harm investors and government entities alike,” Nuveen and AllianceBernstin said in their filing on Friday. […]

A credit-default swap contract is similar to insurance on a bond, but the purchaser doesn’t need to own any of the underlying debt to buy one. The swap purchaser can buy the bonds after they default and then tender them to the swap seller to get full payment on the contract.

* Bond Buyer

The municipal bond market must wait up to two weeks to learn whether a judge will allow a complaint that seeks to invalidate $14.3 billion of Illinois general obligation bonds to proceed.

The case was “well-briefed” and “well-argued” on both sides, Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Jack D. Davis II said Thursday. “There’s a lot of a material here” and I “believe it is warranted for some further review.” […]

He said he would rule within the next 14 days on whether the case should be allowed to proceed as a taxpayer action complaint. […]

A handful of professionals from institutional investment houses and investment banks attended the hearing in Springfield as the market looks for signals as to whether the courts will conclude that the lawsuit meets the legal criteria to proceed. If so, the case would then be litigated on its merits.

* Warlander’s involvement in the case was defended by Wirepoints…

If they can’t see the difference here, then I can’t really help them.


  1. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:11 am:

    “Indirect interest”


    “Motives shouldn’t matter to the court’s decision on whether the questioned bonds were properly issued.”

    Then case dismissed.

  2. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    Of course Wirepoints is defending them.

    It’s wise to remember who wirepoints is founded by, and who contributes their content.

    If you guessed Illinois Policy Institute executives, you are correct.

  3. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:18 am:

    It’s all about the money. If this case doesn’t get tossed, the corrupt will win another one.

  4. - Barrington - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    Big potential case and I am glad that Rich has brought this to the attention of readers.

  5. - Truthteller - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    I wonder if this was Rauner strategy and if he and his circle are involved?…..

  6. - the Edge - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    A first grader could read the Illinois constitution and see how the bonds were authorized; this reeks of politics and money groping.

  7. - Honeybear - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:39 am:

    The perfidy that Rauner, IPI, Koch, et al
    engaged in
    was always
    for profit.

    Just like Intersect Illinois
    Which just folded
    Perfidy for profit

  8. - Nick - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:39 am:


  9. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    My first thought was that this sounds like champerty. (Which I then had to look up. ) Basically Party C finds Party B in a suit against Party A in return for a share of the proceeds if B wins. In English Common Law this is illegal.

    In the States we allow lawyers to work on a contingency fee basis, which sounds like champerty to me. Not sure how this lawsuit differs from a contingency fee arrangement.

    The claim is that contingency based lawsuits keep people honest. One could make the same case here.

    The lawsuit makes me uncomfortable, but it may have to go forward for a trial on the merits.

  10. - Blue Dog Dem - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    Legalized thievery.

  11. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:47 am:

    Funds not finds.

  12. - 47th Ward - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 10:53 am:


  13. - JS Mill - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:00 am:

    =A credit-default swap contract is similar to insurance on a bond, but the purchaser doesn’t need to own any of the underlying debt to buy one. The swap purchaser can buy the bonds after they default and then tender them to the swap seller to get full payment on the contract=

    It is more like buying a lotto ticket.

    This is a total farce and a complete scam. Tillman needs to be outed for the grifter he is.

  14. - the Edge - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:20 am:

    Last Bull Moose: please explain the merits of the case. In plain language the IL Constitutions states these bonds could be issued.

  15. - Wirepoints - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    Rich, while there may be aspects of this lawsuit on which we agree, you are sorely wrong about the very specific issue of how and whether Warlander’s profit motive should pertain to the case. It’s worth a full article, which we will write and post soon. And please tell your commenters to stop lying about how we are funded.

  16. - Soccermom - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    Is Rauner involved? Has he denounced?

  17. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    I have no opinion on the merits of the case. I understood the immediate question was whether to dismiss the case prior to looking at the merits.

  18. - Jocko - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    ==please tell your commenters to stop lying about how we are funded.==

    Next he’ll be arguing that Wilmette is a middle-class suburb./s

  19. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:43 pm:

    If Warlander and Tillman stand to make a killing then how can they claim they are just good citizens concerned the bonds are unconstitutional?
    I have a high tolerance for hypocrisy, but this is blue green algae toxicity level hypocrisy.

  20. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    Step up your game Wirepoints. Nobody said anything about your funding here. Was that a slip? Should we start looking into that a little more deeply now too? I’ll start digging on that next. I’ll pretend to be surprised at what I find.

    The claim was about your content and there is nothing not-factual about it. Your presidents bio page is STILL on the Illinois Policy Institute ‘about us’ page, where he is listed as “former VP of policy”.

    Own up to your flimsy house of cards. Can we discuss “The Heartland Institute” next, where your president also has his own “about” page?

  21. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 12:48 pm:

    ===If they can’t see the difference here, then I can’t really help them.===

    I had thought the judge would say as much when this question arised.

    It’s interesting what people see and what people are blind to as well.

  22. - Wirepoints - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    TheInvisibleMan crying about opaque connections. The irony seems to escape him. We can save you some time. Ted and Mark have funded almost all of Wirepoints out of their own pockets, with no pay ever.

  23. - Benedict - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 1:44 pm:

    John Tillman, head of the Illinois Policy Institute, is a plaintiff in a lawsuit that would destroy Illinois financially? And would benefit him financially?
    Folks, this is the most unethical scandalous action to ever take place in an Illinois court, in recent history anyway.
    And GOP Leader Tim Schneider is boasting of working with the IPI?
    Why not just walk out to the public square and shoot yourself in the foot for all to see?
    The GOP is obviously desperate.

  24. - A Jack - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    The financial industry has of late taken a renewed interest in CDS’s because of a Blackstone attempt to profit from a CDS by trying to convince a debtor to default. Blackstone is now facing a lawsuit by the other debt holders. The CFTC is also looking at changing the rules of when CDS’s can be redeemed.

    This may not end well for Warlander and those associated with this lawsuit. Warlander’s suit certainly appears to be an attempt to cash in on bond price manipulation.

  25. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Friday, Aug 16, 19 @ 3:04 pm:

    Even if the lawsuit is a long shot, the real money might be in bond prices being depressed at this news. Then Warlander Etc. buy them up cheap and sell them for a higher price when the lawsuit gets dismissed. It’s called manipulation.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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