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The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite and The Fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund Hardcover – 29 Aug 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: BusinessPlusUS (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455504025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455504022
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

In the vein of The Powers That Be comes a page-turning account about the inner workings of the Indian-American power elite and the scandal that brought down one of the world's largest hedge funds.

About the Author

Anita Raghavan was born in Malaysia but came to the United States in 1970 when she was six-years-old. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she spent eighteen years at the Wall Street Journal where she won the Overseas Press Club and New York Press Club awards for her coverage of the mergers and acquisition boom in Europe as well as the near death of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital. In 2008, she became the London Bureau Chief for Forbes. Currently, she is a contributing correspondent to the New York Times' Dealbook.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Athan TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Dec. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of those books that will define a period.

"Barbarians" summed up the junk bond era (and remains my favorite business book ever), "When Genius Failed" summed up the bondarb era. A movie (Startup.com) actually summed up the Internet era. "The Smartest Guys in the Room" (which, shame on me, I've yet to read) summed up the creative accounting era.

While we're waiting for somebody more focused and less confused than David Stockman to pick up on his tremendous ideas and sum up the causes of the ongoing financial crisis, Anita Raghavan comes in and tells us the tale of how the US Government finally got its act together and started locking up the insiders who we've always suspected creamed all the profits out of the stock market, amassing fortunes that make Michael Milken look like the enthusiastic amateur he was when it came to insider dealing.

I have no doubt that one day we'll read about SAC Capital, but for now Steve Cohen is sitting on USD 8 billion p.a. and we really don't know how his story will end. Until he's had his day in court, if he ever does, indeed, we must presume him innocent; that's how we roll.

But there's no need to wait. I don't see anybody topping this breath-taking account . The Millionaire's Apprentice sets a very high bar. The author has conducted deep research into the characters and the events, and this shows. She sat in court, she listened to the tapes, she listened to all views and I'd be extremely surprised if one fact in the entire book is wrong. When there's doubt, besides, the author presents both sides, never shying away from saying how she thinks it went.

More than that, this would be a fantastic book even if it was fiction. You get character development here. There's a plot that moves quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Millar on 14 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent coverage of the Indian business diaspora in the US and the 'problems' ensuing from close, yet competitive relationships. As always, power and money tend to corrupt.
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One of the best books I picked up recently. The narrative is clear that captures the drama well. Picked up and read the entire book in 2 sessions (could not put it down)!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 143 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
A high octane thriller 6 Jun. 2013
By Srikumar S. Rao - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not a novel but it is every bit as gripping as any thriller you are likely to pick up.

It was just a question of time before someone wrote a book about these historical business events and Anita Raghavan just happened to be the first. I am sure that there will be other books, possibly many other books but they will have a high bar to cross because Raghavan's book is so darn good - meticulously researched and compellingly written.

There is no doubt that the business events discussed are highly significant. The former head of the world's premier consulting firm, who was on the board of many blue chip firms including the pre-eminent financial juggernaut, freely giving privileged information to a shady hedge fund operator - this is not an everyday scenario. Or maybe it is but it was certainly a deep secret and no other comparable case has surfaced as yet.

This is an important business story by any yardstick. But there is a sub-text - many of the principals came from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh so it also a story of South Asians and how they have risen from obscurity and hard-scrabble roots to the very top of establishment America. I am South Asian myself so this resonated deeply in a bitter sweet way. Yes, those convicted were South Asian, but so were those who prosecuted them and held them legally accountable for their transgressions. A true tale of immigrant progress.

Raj Rajaratnam, a scrappy Sri Lankan born trader, started a hedge fund called Galleon Group and built it into one of the world's biggest and most influential. He managed billions of dollars and became a billionaire himself. He also lived the high life with private jets flying important customers to choice Super Bowl seats and exotic paid ladies at orchestrated events. For more on this see "The Buy Side" by Turney Duff. His enormous success owed much to a network of informers who fed him confidential information that he used brilliantly to juice his outsize returns. Rajaratnam had strong street smarts and a penetrating insight into human foibles that he used to ruthlessly manipulate persons.

For example, Anil Kumar was a McKinsey Director and former classmate at Wharton. McKinsey directors live well but don't own private islands and helicopters to take them there. Rajaratnam commiserated with Kumar about his inadequate compensation, extolled his acumen and analytical abilities and then paid him a million dollars to make use of his "skills". This money was funneled through a foreign bank account in the name of his housekeeper - an arrangement both flimsy and illegal and this came back to haunt Kumar. Gradually it became clear to Kumar that the "skills" Rajaratnam needed was the information he was privy to in his capacity as a McKinsey consultant. He balked, but by them he had accepted the money and the trap was sprung and he started coughing up the information sought.

The grand panjandrum was Rajat Gupta the thrice elected global head of consulting giant McKinsey who was perhaps one of the most respected executives in the world. He was on the board of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines and firms of that caliber. The CEOs of both Gillette and P & G have said that the merger of the two firms would not have happened without mediation by Gupta who was both liked and trusted by both sides. He was very wealthy, but not wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Full disclosure: Rajat Gupta was a guest speaker at my course in Columbia Business School and what he said was so honest and inspirational that I also invited him to speak at my class at London Business School. He outlined a view of business behavior that resonated deeply with students and that I believe business badly needs. I am still struggling to reconcile what he said and his career at McKinsey with what he was accused - and convicted - of doing later.

Rajat Gupta started several ventures with Rajaratnam some of which were successful and some which were not. Wire taps on Rajaratnam's phone showed that Gupta called him seconds after important board meetings - such as at the time of financial turmoil when Warren Buffet agreed to invest five billion dollars in Goldman. Rajaratnam's firm then made significant and highly profitable trades. A lot of circumstantial evidence but enormously strong and convincing to the jury which convicted him.

Rajat did enormous good in many fields and was the force behind the Indian School of Business - one of the premier business schools in India. He was the iconic role-model of many Indians including those like Sanjay Wadhwa who, as deputy chief of the SEC's Market Abuse Section, investigated and built the case against him. Quite possibly Gupta also paved the way for South Asians like Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to reach the high positions they occupied. Bharara was the one who eventually convicted Gupta.

Raghavan takes a Ken Follett approach in her book. If you read "Eye of the Needle" you will recollect that it goes back and forth in time and gradually ties all the characters together. Similarly Raghavan begins with a White House dinner for the visiting Indian Prime Minister, goes back to colonial India and Gupta's father's role in the freedom struggle, back to the US and Gupta's legal travails, back to India during the turmoil and bloodshed of partition and how Wadhwa's parents were caught up in it and so on. I just happen to like this approach and found that Raghavan converted a tale of high level business chicanery into a gripping narrative.

The unanswered question is WHY? Why did Gupta, as accomplished and successful an executive as you can find, consort with persons of the ilk of Rajaratnam and readily give away confidential information?

Rajaratnam's brother Rengan was quoted in the press as saying "For years these guys were sitting around in sports clubs and exchanging information. That wasn't a crime. And now we immigrants do the same thing and it is?" Presumably Rajaratnam believes this. Does Rajat Gupta also believe it?

We do not know much about the rarefied circles in which Rajat mingled so comfortably. Was his behavior the outlier? Or the norm and his misfortune was that he got caught?

I am waiting for the book that will shed light on this.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Thriller on Insider Trading - "The Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund" 12 Aug. 2013
By Jim Campbell, Host of Nationally Syndicated - "Business Talk with Jim Campbell" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and The Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund" by former Wall Street Journal reporter Anita Raghavan belongs in an elite category of Wall Street exposes that I call: "You Cannot Put It Down" - along with: James Stewart's - "Den of Thieves" (about Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken); Bryan Burrough & John Helyar's - "Barbarians at the Gate" (about the takeover of RJR Nabisco); Michael Lewis' - "Liars Poker" (about the trading culture at Salomon Brothers); William D. Cohan's - "House of Cards" (about the fall of Bear Stearns); and Lawrence McDonald's - "Colossal Failure of Common Sense" (the inside story of the death of Lehman Brothers). Trust me, that is good company; and, Raghavan's book has just been longlisted for the coveted "FT-Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year".

The book is a thriller as the Feds move in on billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, owner of the Galleon Hedge Fund and his accomplice, the ultimate insider, Rajat Gupta - the first foreign born CEO of the prestigious management consulting firm: McKinsey. Raghavan masterfully weaves the rise and fall of the two within the context of the rise of the Indian-American elite - which includes the pair of insider traders' nemesis who nailed them: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York - Preet Bharara. The brazen insider trading of Rajaratnam is captured on wiretaps that are laid out in the book.

The book is particularly timely as Rajaratnam's "MO" of sucking insider information out of a network of sleazy intermediaries who insinuate themselves with corporate insiders is strikingly similar to the latest victim of Bharara - SAC Capital and "Stevie" Cohen. What Raj and Stevie call "a mosaic" of information, coupled with "window dressing" research departments, is really a thinly veiled MO for trading on material non-public information - the legal definition of insider trading. When Rajat Gupta leaves a Goldman Sachs Board Meeting and calls Rajaratnam within 23 seconds of the meeting end with inside information and Raj then trades on it minutes before the close of the market, selling $25-million of Goldman shares in advance of the public learning of disappointing quarterly earnings, it's no surprise that Raj is now serving 11 years in prison.

If you want to read a thriller as the Feds move in on insider trading; understand how the trading of insider information works in the hedge fund community and learn a fascinating history of the meteoric rise of the Indian-American elite, this is your book. I promise you will not be able to put it down. You may need to take a shower though after all the bad behavior. Raghavan is part of that "rise of the Indian-American elite" having written what will become a Wall Street classic in her first book.

Listen here to Anita Raghavan's interview on my radio show - "Business Talk with Jim Campbell" - Sundays from 10-11am & 10-11pm EST on the Business Talk Radio Network:


(Copy the link into your browser)
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A morality play on greed and akrasia 4 Jun. 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[ASIN:1455504025 The Billionaire's Apprentice: The Rise of The Indian-American Elite and The Fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund] This is a meticulously investigated and researched and imaginatively written book that takes us deep into the heart of insider trading on Wall Street. Featuring the rise of the South Asian community in the United States and the fall of the Galleon hedge fund, which took down two iconic figures and a colourful cast of supporting players drawn to insider trading in unexpected and strange ways, it can be read as a morality play on greed and akrasia. On the other side stand the antagonists, the unbending enforcers of the rule of law, who include key South Asian players with life stories as interesting as those of the law-breakers. I found the characterization of the main actors, and even of some of the bit players, strong and the depiction of varied motives persuasive. Several other themes, such as the Indian freedom struggle, talent, early hardship, hard work, and success, come together in a drama that has a startling ending. I won't spoil it for other readers by even hinting at what this might be. A very worthwhile read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps the best 9 July 2013
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Books about the wall street crooks are generally really good and really informative. This one is the best yet. The history of India that she lays out as the groundwork for the main characters is superb. The tension she builds is great story telling, the compassion for the characters and lack of judgement makes this a must read for anyone who wants to know what is going on on Wall Street!
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Truth, Justice, and the Indian-American Way 10 July 2013
By RamK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Anita Raghavan's well-researched book paints a fascinating word portrait of the life stories of Raj Rajaratnam and Rajat Gupta, and how they reached the pinnacle of success on Wall Street and corporate America before being accused and eventually convicted for insider trading. However, it would be natural to expect that a book sub-titled The Rise of The Indian-American Elite would focus on the success of Indian immigrants in the United States. Instead, The Billionaire's Apprentice dwells for the most part on the fall from grace of two uber-successful South Asians, a hedge-fund tycoon and the eminence grise of corporate America.

In the end, the book brings it all together with a sensitive and human portrayal of events at court, pitting former friends, colleagues and partners against each other, and former close family friends watching as two of the most powerful men in the US undergo a devastating public trial ending in conviction. Raghavan does not give any benefit of doubt to Rajat's version of the story that these calls were unrelated to insider information and were not atypical for an extremely busy executive used to catching up on pending items and returning calls between meetings.

And the book concludes with a dramatic but unnecessary - and arguably cruel - flourish in tying the storyline back to a family secret going back to the 1930s.

Raghavan states in the acknowledgements section that her agent realised early on that "... the Galleon case was the perfect way to tell the story that I had been wrestling with for years: the rise and maturation of the South Asian diaspora in the United States." Later, she adds: "... I had been struggling to find an engaging way to write about the South Asian diaspora in the United States. The Galleon arrests provided the perfect vehicle... it was a tale of the early migration of Indians to the United States, their breathtakingly swift rise and heady success in America, and last but most important, the emergence of a second generation of Indians who would ignore the blind loyalties their fathers held to kin and country and serve as a model of assimilated Indians in America."

Readers may judge for themselves if the Galleon story and the downfall of Raj and Rajat are the best way to tell the story of the rise and maturation of the South Asian Diaspora, and whether and how ignoring `blind loyalties' to kin and country leads to becoming a model of assimilation. The book puts a harsh spotlight on 12 Indian Americans and two Sri Lankans out of a total of 130-plus people charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission over the past two-three years. That's just about 10 per cent of those charged, which is not too far out of proportion from the percentage of Indian Americans in senior positions on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley. In other words, the Indian-American community is no better or worse than most other nationalities in having its share of transgressors.

Meanwhile, as the book itself points out, 70 per cent of Indian Americans have bachelor's degrees compared to a national average of 28 per cent, and a median annual household income that is twice the national average and 33 per cent higher than Asian Americans in general. The book also mentions but pays little attention to dozens of Indian Americans who lead respectable and law-abiding lives and have succeeded in reaching the highest leadership positions in academia and industry as members of a model immigrant community.

Many of the Indian Americans that Raj Rajaratnam interacts with regularly for philanthropic and business reasons are the who's who of corporate America, and their ability to succeed without breaking the law is never a focus of this book. Even more interestingly, two of the most powerful `good guys' on the government side, who pursued and prosecuted the Galleon case, were Indian Americans.

Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, occupies an office that was graced by none other than former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. Rajat Gupta gets three times the number of mentions in the book as compared to Bharara.

Likewise, Sanjay Wadhwa, assistant regional director of the New York office of the SEC and deputy chief of the Market Abuse Unit, has a lead role in the Galleon saga. If Raj and Rajat played leading roles in the fall of the Galleon hedge fund, then Preet and Sanjay were the good guys who showed that many members of the South Asian community were also leading the charge for truth, justice and the (Indian-)American way.

The book is a must-read as a sad but gripping story of the downfall of a man about whom the presiding judge said: "The court can say without exaggeration that it has never encountered a defendant whose prior history suggests such an extraordinary devotion, not only to humanity writ large, but also to individual human beings in their times of need." Yet, it also will feel like a case of schadenfreude in seeing the mighty fail and fall, with a title like The Billionaire's Apprentice and weighty phrases like `Twice Blessed' to parallel the `Twice Born' name for the Brahmin caste (Dvija).

One can only wish Raghavan had chosen to shine a spotlight on the law-abiding role models and success stories of Indian Americans whose names are sprinkled throughout the book, rather than just focusing on the Billionaire and the putative Apprentice.
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