Baupost sheds Puerto Rican debt bonds

The+Marquette+Coalition+for+Debt+Relief+protested+Marquette%27s+involvement+with+Baupost.+%0A%0AMarquette+Wire+Stock+Photo

The Marquette Coalition for Debt Relief protested Marquette’s involvement with Baupost. Marquette Wire Stock Photo

As of the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year, Baupost, a Boston-based hedge fund, “is no longer invested in Puerto Rico,” Lynn Griffith, senior director of university communication, said in an email.

Baupost spokesperson Diana DeSocio declined to comment on Baupost’s investment activity.

Baupost owned nearly $1 billion of Puerto Rican sales tax debts in 2017. Marquette University previously invested in Baupost, according to tax documents from 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The university previously declined to confirm or deny if it remains invested in Baupost. The Marquette Wire was unable to locate this information in the most recently available tax documents.

“Marquette University is pleased that the Baupost Group was able to negotiate with the Puerto Rican government to reach a debt solution that will ultimately save Puerto Rico tens of millions of dollars,” university spokesperson Chris Stolarski said in an email. “Marquette supports such actions that serve to help Puerto Rico’s people and its economy thrive.”

A group of students formed the Marquette Coalition for Debt Relief in 2018 and rallied to raise awareness regarding Marquette’s alleged revenue gain from their investments in Baupost.

The students had multiple meetings with the university. The first meeting included the student protest group, current vice president for Marquette University Student Government Dan Brophy, former president of MUSG Meredith Gillespie, vice president for student affairs Xavier Cole and former provost Dan Myers. The second meeting included the students from the protest group, University President Michael Lovell, Myers and chief investment officer Sean Gissal.

Students expressed their reasoning for concerns, which included perceived austerity measures from Baupost on the island, to Cole and Myers during the first meeting.

During the second meeting, both Myers and Lovell expressed their lack of knowledge in university investments while Gissal explained the university’s beliefs toward Baupost’s actions. Hannah Badeau, a Marquette College of Arts & Sciences alumna who attended the meeting, said she felt the second meeting was not productive.

After Myers left the university, Badeau said communication with the university administrators ended.

She said Brophy previously promised he would continue to push on the issue and he did not follow through.

Badeau said she was surprised that Baupost sold its holdings. However, she said it did not excuse Marquette’s investments and the way the administration treated the protesters.

This story was written by Annie Mattea. She can be reached at anne.mattea@marquette.edu.