Washington, April 10: A New York investment firm pitched wealthy investors in recent days on a way to make returns of 22% to 175% using U.S. government programs designed to help Americans keep their jobs and boost the coronavirus-stricken economy, the Reuters reported on the basis of a marketing document it had seen.

Following questions posed by Reuters, Arcadia Investment Partners LLC, which has about $1 billion under management, said it had put its plans on hold. The idea was in “formative stages” and the firm was not “presently moving forward with this strategy given reasons that include uncertainty surrounding the regulations,” Dahlia Loeb, managing director at Arcadia, told Reuters in an email on Wednesday. She did not elaborate further.

The firm had sent the pitch as recently as this weekend to “a limited number of sophisticated investors,” according to the marketing materials, which are dated April 4 and marked confidential. In an email sent Sunday, and seen by Reuters, Loeb wrote it was a “highly time sensitive opportunity” and had offered to discuss it with investors that day or early in the week.

Arcadia’s pitch offers a glimpse into how some private investors are looking to quickly take advantage of the unprecedented government intervention after the novel coronavirus brought economic activity to a screeching halt.

Under Arcadia’s plan, which has not been previously reported, the firm would have raised money to finance loans to small businesses guaranteed as part of a $2.2 trillion government aid package, the marketing materials show. It called the new vehicle the “Paycheck Protection Program Fund,” named after the government initiative for small businesses launched on April 3.

Arcadia proposed to juice profits by borrowing 90% to 95% of the money from funding markets that were backstopped in recent weeks by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The small business lending program has had a chaotic start, with banks and companies saying more crucial details need to be worked out. Under Arcadia’s plan, the actual loans would have been made by online lending platforms. Some such lenders said they are yet to be approved by the government to make the loans. 

Had Arcadia proceeded with its plan, its investors would have profited handsomely from a virtually risk-free investment. Arcadia typically generates returns to investors of between 8% and 12%, depending on the type of investment, according to a March regulatory filing. The potential returns would also be far above other options available to investors. The U.S. 10-year Treasury note, for example, currently yields around 0.77%.

Founded in 2001, Arcadia makes investments in areas such as private equity, real estate and distressed credit funds, according to its March regulatory filing. It said its investors include investment funds and wealthy people, including hedge fund managers and chief executives. 


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