What do Wall Street types think about our reports that Campus Crest Communities CEO Ted Rollins has been investigated for child sexual abuse of his stepson? What do they make of public documents that show Rollins was convicted for a brutal assault on the same stepson?
Wall Street has heaped more than $400 million of support on Rollins' company since late 2010, so you would think analysts and investors might have concerns about unseemliness in the CEO's background. Under certain circumstances, it can be unlawful for a public company or its underwriters to fail to disclose a CEO's criminal history. These can be extremely serious matters, so it's only natural to ask: What does the investment crowd make of these disclosures?
We are asking that question--and others. But so far, we aren't having much luck at getting answers. When we try to reach a Wall Street type by telephone, making it known that we have questions about Campus Crest Communities, he seems to scurry away from the receiver. When we send questions to a Wall Street type via e-mail, asking about Campus Crest Communities, his computer keyboard suddenly becomes toxic. ("Must . . . not . . . touch . . . ")
Consider Vivek "Vick" Seth, of Raymond James in Tampa, Florida. He seems to be the No. 1 driving force behind the Campus Crest IPO, which raked in about $380 million. You might think that Mr. Seth would be doing back flips to discuss this wondrous company and its CEO. But you would be wrong.
I called Mr. Seth's office and left a message on his voice mail, asking him to call me. No response. I sent an e-mail, explained the subject matter, and asked him to contact me. No response. I sent a list of questions via e-mail and asked him to provide answers in writing. No response.
I went through the same procedure with Buck Horne, who is listed as the chief Raymond James analyst for Campus Crest. No response.
What was going on? I called Mr. Seth's office again and spoke with a helpful woman named Tiffany. Here, in part, is how our conversation went. (Please see video at the end of this post.)
Tiffany: Vick Seth's office, this is Tiffany.
Schnauzer: Yes, may I speak with Mr. Seth please?
Tiffany: Can I tell him who is calling?
Schnauzer: Yes, my name is Roger Shuler.
Tiffany: OK, Roger, the company you are calling from?
Schnauzer: I'm a journalist in Birmingham, Alabama.
Tiffany: OK, one moment. Can I ask--he's going to ask--what you are calling about?
Schnauzer: Yes, I was calling about Campus Crest Communities.
I don't know about you, but I had the distinct impression from that exchange that Vick Seth was present and imminently available. In fact, I envisioned him with feet propped on his desk, shooting spitballs into a waste basket with one hand and counting $100 bills with the other.
But after a short pause, Tiffany returned to inform me that Mr. Seth had suddenly become unavailable. I left my number and asked if she could have him call me. She said she would do that.
I'm still waiting for the call.
Based on the images in the video below, Mr. Seth obviously has plenty of time to buy hair gel. But answer questions about a company that has drawn more than $400 million in investor support? Ah . . . not so much.
Actually, I have reached one Wall Street type who was willing to discuss Campus Crest Communities and Ted Rollins. Her name is Paula Poskon, a senior research analyst at Robert W. Baird and Co., one of about six underwriters on the Campus Crest IPO. My interactions with Ms. Poskon were most insightful. In fact, I would say "fascinating" is not too strong a word to describe them.
I actually had a Wall Street analyst speaking candidly, at least for a while, about the intersection of high finance and a profoundly important problem in society. And she obviously wound up regretting it, although I'm not sure why.
Perhaps this is the First Commandment on Wall Street: Thou shalt not speak openly and honestly about a CEO. Maybe Ms. Poskon violated it. As a journalist, I appreciated her candor; I'm guessing her Wall Street colleagues will not be so appreciative.
That story is coming soon here at Legal Schnauzer. You won't want to miss it.