Ten profanity-filled days after his first press conference as White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci is leaving the Trump administration. His departure is designed to give new chief of staff John Kelly “a clean slate,” according to a White House statement today.
Scaramucci’s outsized personality and rocky personal life could make him the subject of tabloid headlines for months to come. But more interesting will be the fate of SkyBridge Capital, a $11.4 billion “fund of funds” built over 12 years by the former financier, which he sold early this year.
As an advisor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Scaramucci expected a role in the White House earlier, but selling off SkyBridge reportedly held up his hiring. On Jan. 17, Scaramucci announced that he had sold his 45% stake in SkyBridge to a partnership that included China’s HNA Group for a total of $180 million, about twice the normal valuation for similar funds of funds deals. Ethics watchdogs and analysts warned it could be a way for Beijing to try to buy influence in the White House.
“They bought SkyBridge in spite of, not because of, my affiliation with the administration, because they both recognize that I would personally recuse myself from any and all activities in terms of my relationship with the administration,” Scaramucci responded to criticism on Jan. 27. HNA Group has come under scrutiny recently for its complex and shifting ownership structure.
What happens next to that deal will be closely watched—if Chinese buyers bought SkyBridge in order to pick up a relationship with a White House insider, they’re likely to drop the deal. So far, there have been no signs of cold feet. “The transaction remains on track and is expected to close by the end of the summer,” a spokesman for HNA Group in New York told Quartz on Monday.
The deal is still being reviewed by the US Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which scrutinizes foreign acquisitions in the country. Scaramucci, meanwhile, will face a much higher tax bill from the fund’s sale if he no longer holds a public sector job.