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24 Oct 2006

Hedge Funds see Record Results

Hedge Fund Research(HFR) reported this week that hedge funds took $44.5 billion in the third quarter this year, almost as much as the $46.9 billion invested in the whole of 2005.

HFR said that hedge fund assets under management grew to $1.34 trillion, the most the hedge fund research firm has seen since its inception in 2003. HFR President Joshua Rosenberg said
“This has been another record quarter and it looks as if it will be a record year,”

Rosenberg also said “While quarterly performance was again less than spectacular, the flow of new assets into the industry remained remarkably strong,.......This may suggest that investors are taking a longer-term perspective with regards to how they allocate assets to hedge funds.”

HFR reported that over half of the new money went to multistrategy funds, equity hedge and event-driven strategies. On average, hedge funds returned just over 1 percent in the third quarter, putting performance this year through the end of September at 7.1 percent.

Funds of hedge funds also had a record quarter for inflows, despite year-through-September returns of just 4.77 percent. They collected $23.8 billion over the quarter, up from $15.6 billion in the second quarter and more than double last year’s net inflow of $9.5 billion.

Two banks set up Hedge Funds

Eastern Europe
Erste Bank AG, Austria’s Vienna-based lender, has set up a new hedge fund with $30 million of Erste’s own capital on October 1. The Maximum Emerging Alpha Fund will invest 40% of its capital in Central and Eastern Europe.

Erste has put Eastern Europe at the center of its strategy. Last week it paid $2.76 billion to buy Romania’s largest lender, Banca Erste, which has more than $1.3 billion invested in hedge fund Comerciala Romana SA.

Part of the Maximum Emerging Alpha capital will be used to seed new funds, and expects to invest in between 20 and 30 hedge funds at any given time, the company said. It aims to make money by investing in hedge funds active in central and eastern Europe as well as by giving hedge-fund managers from the region and other emerging markets seed capital for their funds. It will also invest directly in emerging-market financial instruments.

Harcourt has launched their first onshore fund of hedge funds product structured specifically for Canadian investors. The Belmont Dynamic Growth Fund has aligned itself with the Royal Bank of Canada to offer what the firm believes will be a superior product solution.

The Belmont Dynamic Growth hedge fund was launched on August 1 and is investing in existing Belmont fund of hedge fund managers with long-term performance records. Presently, the portfolio is tactically positioned having exposure to Asia, Europe, US Long/Short Equity, Fixed Income and Market Neutral strategies.

Senator Alarmed by lack of Hedge Fund Transparency

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said in a letter to federal agency heads that he plans to look into risks posed by hedge funds to pension funds.

Grassley, a republican from Iowa, said in a letter to treasury secretary Henry Paulson and SEC chairman Christopher Cox “to report to him on any transparency requirements facing hedge funds…..Tens of millions of Americans are exposed to the risk of hedge funds through intermediaries such as pension funds, endowments and other investment pools,....The potential for significant losses at our nation’s pension funds due to hedge fund investments could put the retirement security of American workers in jeopardy.’‘

Grassley also sent letters to labor secretary Elaine Chao, commodity futures trading commission chairman Reuben Jeffery, pension benefit director Vincent Snowbarger and six US senators among others.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Grassley said “It’s quite obvious that some hedge funds have problems, maybe even some showing criminal activity,....We want to make sure there’s transparency. Sunshine in the best disinfectant and transparency is our goal at this point.”