1/7/09

Rival to J. Ezra Merkin: Stop Calling Your Scandal-Ridden Fund Ariel

Bloomberg reports that John Rogers Jr., a "rival" fund manager, is complaining that J. Ezra Merkin's scandal involving Merkin's Ariel fund has damaged Rogers' Ariel Investments.

He demands that Merkin give up the name. Ezra ought jump at the chance.

Someone told me yesterday that they thought Ezra had the lack of foresight to name his funds after his kids, Ariel and Gabriel. We don't know if this information is in any way correct. If it is true, a name change for his funds might spare Merkin's children embarrassment too.

And yes, the legendary archangel Ariel might be also breathe a sigh of relief to be spared the association with Merkin.
Merkin Fund Must Change Name to Avoid Madoff Link, Rival Says
By Erik Larson
(Bloomberg) -- Ariel Investments LLC, the money- management firm run by John Rogers Jr., demanded that J. Ezra Merkin’s Ariel Fund Ltd. change its name to stop confusion over ties to Bernard Madoff.

Merkin and his Ariel Fund were sued by New York University for funneling its money to Madoff, the financier who allegedly admitted last month to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Ariel Investments also has an Ariel Fund, and “numerous parties” are inquiring about its link to the case, according to a letter sent to Merkin’s fund.

“This mistaken association between Ariel Investments and alleged participants in a nationally publicized scandal has caused and continues to cause damage to Ariel Investments,” the Chicago-based firm said in the Dec. 30 cease-and-desist letter.

Ariel Investments, which manages more than $7 billion, was created in 1983 by Rogers, a top fund-raiser for President-elect Barack Obama. The firm said Merkin’s fund violates seven federal trademarks that give Ariel Investments exclusive use of the word for money-management services.

Ariel Investments said it’s prepared to “escalate this matter” if Merkin’s fund doesn’t change its name within 10 days. The company’s trademarks include “Ariel Fund” and standalone “Ariel,” according to the letter.

Merkin’s spokesman, Andy Merrill, declined to comment because he wasn’t aware of the letter. etc...

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