March 8, 2012 / 4:23 PM / 7 years ago

Falcone is still a billionaire, despite troubles

Philip Falcone, CEO, CIO, and Senior Managing Director of Harbinger Capital Partners speaks at the 16th annual Sohn Investment Conference in New York May 25, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

(Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Philip Falcone started 2012 with a series of setbacks, but there is one thing he can still count on this year: membership in the hyper-exclusive club of the world’s richest people.

The 49-year-old investor clocked in at No. 1,075 on Forbes’ 2012 list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $1.1 billion, the magazine reported this week.

For Falcone, who is betting his career on bringing wireless service to rural America, that should be reason to celebrate. He still made the list even though he has fallen hard in the rankings from last year’s Number 540 spot when he had $2.2 billion to his name.

A spokesman for the New York-based manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month U.S. regulators dealt a severe blow to LightSquared Inc, the startup telecommunications company Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners is bankrolling, when it said the proposed satellite system should not be allowed to operate because it interferes with GPS technology used by the military and commercial airliners.

Since then LightSquared has had to lay off nearly half of its staff and find other ways to conserve cash.

Tough financial conditions forced Falcone to lock up his investors’ money after the fund lost 47 percent last year, making some already irritated investors even angrier at him, several investors who did not want to be named publicly have said. A few weeks ago, a client filed a lawsuit charging Falcone with making “deceptive and misleading statements” while raising money for the Harbinger fund.

Despite his troubles, the former Harvard hockey star who made $1.7 billion by betting against overheated mortgages is still part of the exclusive circle that counts some of his industry’s most vaunted players. Hedge fund superstars George Soros, Carl Icahn, John Paulson, Ray Dalio, Steven Cohen and David Tepper all rank above him on the Forbes list.

And some newcomers are fast nipping at Falcone’s heels for a spot on the list. Chase Coleman, a 30-something investor who got his start with industry titan Julian Robertson and now runs his own Tiger Global Management, made the Forbes list for the first time this year with a net worth of $1 billion.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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