Randall Duncan "Randy" Smith (born 1942) is an American hedge fund manager, and the founder and chief of investments of Alden Global Capital. Smith is known as a pioneer of vulture capitalism, the purchase and dismantling of distressed firms.[1]

Randy Smith
Randall Duncan Smith

1942 (age 80–81)
EducationCornell University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
  • Kathryn Smith
  • Barbara Stovall
RelativesRuss Smith (brother)

Early life edit

Smith was born in 1942.[2] He earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1965, followed by an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.[3][2]

His younger brother Russ Smith founded the Baltimore City Paper and the Washington City Paper, which he sold for $4 million, and in 1989 founded the New York Press.[2]

Career edit

Bryan Tower, Dallas

Smith was a partner at Bear Stearns from 1975 to 1995, where he founded the convertible arbitrage department and later focused on investing in distressed assets.[3][4]

He started his first investment firm at home while still working for Bear Stearns, with $20,000 he and his wife[clarification needed] won in the late 1960s on Dream House, a television game show.[2]

Real estate edit

In 1998, Smith acquired the Bryan Tower, a 40-story downtown office building in Dallas, Texas. His son Caleb Smith oversaw the renovation for his father's company Spire Realty, which he now runs.[5]

In 2002, together with his second wife Barbara (a Houston native), and his brother Jeffrey Smith, Randy Smith bought the historic 100-room 1924 Sam Houston Hotel, extensively remodelled it, and reopened it in 2005 as the Alden Hotel.[2] In 2010, the ownership of the Alden Houston formally transferred to Northwood Investors.[6] In 2012, Northwood sold the hotel to American Liberty Hospitality and Gentry Mills Capital and returned to its original name as The Sam Houston Hotel.[7]

Smith and his wife Barbara own sixteen residential investment properties in the Palm Beach, Florida area through limited liability companies, properties from which they draw rental income.[8]

Alden Global Capital edit

In 2007, Smith founded Alden Global Capital, and is its chief of investments.[3] As of May 2021, Alden Global is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States.[9][10][11]

Alden has a reputation for sharply cutting costs by reducing the number of journalists working on its newspapers.[10][11][12][13]

Criticisms edit

The New York Times, in a 1991 article titled "Bottom Fishing with R.D. Smith" reported on conflicts of interest while Smith was at Bear Stearns.[14]

In 2005, Smith settled claims from a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee associated with an investment in Hawaiian Airlines.[15]

Writing in The Atlantic, McKay Coppins has criticized Smith and Alden co-founder Heath Freeman, saying "no one has been more mercenary or less interested in pretending to care about their publications’ long-term health."[1]

Personal life edit

He met his first wife Kathryn Smith, when both were Cornell students, and she earned a PhD in political science.[2] They have a son, Caleb Smith, who was profiled in 2011 in the Dallas-based D Magazine, and a daughter.[2][5] Kathryn Smith died of ovarian cancer.[5]

He is married to Barbara Stovall Smith.

References edit

  1. ^ a b Coppins, McKay (2021-10-14). "A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Man Behind the Curtain, Part 1". Dfmworkers.org. 1 November 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Executive Profile: Randall Duncan Smith". Bloomberg LP. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Vulture in distress". Nypost.com. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Spire Realty's Caleb Smith: The Next Trammell Crow?". Dmagazine.com. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Hotel Alden in Downtown Houston Acquired by Northwood Investors; Hans Schmitt Appointed General Manager and Managing Partner / January 2010". Hotel-online.com. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Alden Houston hotel acquired by American Liberty Hospitality". Bizjournals.com. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  8. ^ Hofheinz, Darrell (August 8, 2013). "Beyond the Hedges: Another House Snapped up in Buying Spree". PalmBeachDailyNews.com. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  9. ^ Yoksoulian, Lois (June 2, 2021). "What does the Chicago Tribune sale mean for the future of newsrooms?". Illinois News Bureau. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  10. ^ a b Folkenflik, David (May 21, 2021). "'Vulture' Fund Alden Global, Known For Slashing Newsrooms, Buys Tribune Papers". NPR. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Jackson, David, and Gary Marx, "Opinion - Will The Chicago Tribune Be the Next Newspaper Picked to the Bone?" (op-ed), New York Times, January 19, 2020. Note: The writers were investigative reporters at The Chicago Tribune. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  12. ^ Bauerlein, Monika (2020-05-15). ""News is just like waste management."". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2020-06-02.
  13. ^ Izadi, Elahe; Ellison, Sarah. "The battle for Tribune: Inside the campaign to find new owners for a legendary group of newspapers". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-04-06.
  14. ^ Cowan, Alison Leigh (1991-03-29). "COMPANY NEWS; Bottom Fishing With R.D. Smith". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-10-25.
  15. ^ "Honolulu Star-Bulletin". archives.starbulletin.com. Retrieved 2021-10-25.