Thomas Steyer of Farallon Capital Management responds to students’ call for a meeting about the devastating impact of Farallon Capital Management‘s investments with patronizing and empty rhetoric:

We work hard to live up to our values, and we appreciate the confidence of our investors and partners, who know us well. It is abundantly clear from your work that we disclose a great deal of information to our limited partners. As you may not know, we also voluntarily register with the SEC as an investment advisor.

I appreciate that you or others may have different ideas about economics and business. We do believe that our role in allocating capital contributes to economic growth in communities around the world, which in turn improves long-term social and environmental conditions. Globalization has costs, but it is also bringing benefits to the world’s citizens. Governments, civil society and businesses must each play a role ensuring that transition costs are minimized and that there is fair distribution of the benefits of growing economies.

Thank you for your letter. We communicate extensively with our investors, including universities, on these and all other investment issues and concerns. Therefore, we do not believe a meeting with you is appropriate.

Meanwhile, in a letter to limited partners, he wrote:

In a recent letter to investors, Thomas Steyer, Farallon’s senior managing member, fired back at the students and tried to reassure investors.

We did review all of the charges, and discovered no issues of concern of which we had not previously been aware. Many of the charges are factually inaccurate; even more are misleading. We did take the Web site seriously enough to compile all the relevant facts, and are happy to discuss any particular questions you may have. […] We wish to minimize the problems these controversies may cause you or any others with whom we do business. I am hopeful that this issue will quiet down, though we will of course work vigorously to protect our reputations, if need be.

As the Alternative Investments News reported:

“The letter sent yesterday indicates that Farallon is still not willing to engage in a fair and open discussion with us,” said Justin Ruben, a spokesman for unfarallon.info. He added that the Web site would correct any inaccuracies if Farallon pointed them out. “In the meantime, we’re committed to intensifying our efforts, and today we’re launching a new outreach effort to involve students at other universities, including Farallon clients and potential clients, beginning with those with the largest endowments,” Ruben said.

Steyer’s letter also contained his trademark writing style, as he evoked a scene from the Owen Wister novel The Virginian. The scene involves a poker game whereby the protagonist is being insulted by another player. “The table falls silent, and the Virginian–trying to avoid a fight–remarks, ‘When you call me that, smile.'” “As students we share Mr. Steyer’s obvious love of classic American literature, but we wish that he shared our commitment to free and open public debate,” said Ruben.””

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