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Morgan Stanley Says It Lost Nearly $1 Billion Following Archegos Disaster

Still, the firm managed to report net revenues of $15.7 billion for its first quarter.

April 19, 2021 2 min read

Despite posting solid results for its first quarter, Morgan Stanley lost nearly $1 billion as a result of its partnership with Archegos Capital Management, according to CNBC

The firm announced in an earnings call last Friday that it lost $644 million from a "credit event" for Archegos in addition to $267 million in trading losses. The combined $911 million loss was partly driven by Morgan Stanley's role as an underwriter on ViacomCBS shares. The firm had served as one of Archegos' prime brokers and oversaw a $3 billion stock offering that fell apart in March.

Related: An Investor Made $20 Billion, Then Lost It All in Just 2 Days

"We liquidated some very large single stock positions through a series of block sales culminating on Sunday night, March 28," Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman reportedly said on the call with analysts. "That resulted in a net loss of $644 million, which represents the amount the client owed us under the transactions that they failed to pay us." 

Gorman added that the firm made the decision to "to completely de-risk the remaining smaller long and short positions." In an effort to escape the risk as quickly as possible, Morgan Stanley incurred an "incremental loss of $267 million." 

Archegos was founded in 2013 by Bill Hwang, a protege of Tiger Management founder Julian Robertson. Despite his prior run-ins with the SEC, he was able to secure lenders in Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Nomura and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. to grow his family office's portfolio. 

Last month, however, Archegos suffered a major setback when ViacomCBS — on which the family office had bet massively and tripled its shares in four months — saw its stock offering crumble. Brokers immediately scrambled to exit the positions on Archegos' behalf to stem their losses, but Morgan Stanley waited until the following Sunday to sell a block of the company's stock. Though the firm subsequently suffered losses, it still managed to report net revenues of $15.7 billion for its first quarter.

Hwang, on the other hand, lost $20 billion in just two days. Other firms, including Credit Suisse, Nomura and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., were also hit hard. According to CNBC, Credit Suisse lost $4.7 billion while Nomura lost approximately $2 billion. 

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