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As SAC shrinks away, how many employees will stay?

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Even as SAC Capital whittles away its holdings, the firm seems to be operating with a business as usual approach and billionaire founder Steven A. Cohen retains a firm hold on some of his top talent who could stay on to run a lucrative family office that’s still bigger than many Gold Coast hedge funds.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based firm, indicted last month on insider trading charges, slashed its U.S. stock-listed holdings from $16.2 billion as of June 30 to a paltry $2 billion in the second quarter.

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The firm has been dwindling since the scandal surfaced.

Amid a deluge of investor withdrawals, Parameter Capital Management, a trading unit that had managed money for SAC since 2010, shuttered, according to reports Monday. Anil Stevens and Glenn Shapiro who lunched the fund and managed about $300 million in financial stocks, reportedly planned to shut down before the indictment against SAC. Stevens is going to start his own firm without Shapiro and could take as many as nine people with him, sources told Bloomberg.

Longtime SAC marketer Chris Rae and much of the fundraising team had reportedly left the firm by the time the indictment was announced.

David Selvers, a portfolio manager at SAC's Sigma Capital Management unit, left before the scandal, joining Greenwich, Connecticut-based $2.6 billion hedge fund Conatus Capital Management in June as a senior analyst.

“I have no idea how many are left. Teams may try to leave together. We are getting calls and investment staff are definitely looking outside but it seems remarkably calm there from the outside looking in,” said one New York-based recruiter.

Cohen has vowed to keep SAC open for business, and a judge earlier this month ruled the firm could continue operating until the insider-trading cases are resolved, provided it maintains at least 85% of the “aggregate value” of assets owned by the firm’s “entity defendants” as of July 1.

Richard G. Lipstein, managing director of Gilbert Tweed International, says SAC’s top talent is highly hirable despite any taint brought on by the probe.

“Good PMs and good analysts are always attractive,” says Lipstein. “The traders they have are among the best in the business, and the regulation and compliance people won’t be implicated.”

As we reported earlier this month, there is hope for SAC employees winning new jobs, by following the example of those who quickly moved on to new careers after the colossal collapse of former “Big Five” accounting firm Arthur Andersen.

“Sharks circle around the phone when there is trouble. I know a number of people there and everyone is concerned to the degree that people will always talk to recruiters,” says Lipstein. “Even if the government does succeed in efforts to (prosecute the firm or any of its employees), it will be interesting to see whether it will become a family office. Even with whatever is at fault, that’s still a pretty big family office and managing $8 billion requires a lot of research.”

Follow the author on Twitter @natashagural

AUTHORNatasha Gural Insider Comment

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