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8 Dec 2006

Hedge Fund Survey

Hennessee Group's 12th annual hedge fund manager survey reported that hedge fund assets grew 21% from $1.009 trillion as of June 30, 2005, to $1.2 trillion by Oct. 31.

"Hedge funds are evolving in a manner similar to that of investment banks of old," said Charles Gradante, managing principal of Hennessee's survey. "The fact that they’re getting into venture capital and private equity is no big surprise," Mr. Gradante said. Though the investment vehicles once were "pigeonholed" as bond and stock players, today’s hedge funds have taken significant positions in tech and biotech companies, are floating bonds and are even funding movies made by actor Tom Cruise after his split with Paramount Pictures. A New York-based hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group, with $26 billion in assets, has become the first in the nation to file for an IPO.

The 2006 Hennessee survey also found that the number of hedge funds grew 10%, from 8,050 to 8,900. The survey was conducted on 440 hedge funds from 97 management companies representing over $256 billion in assets.

Though hedge funds traditionally have stood apart from regulated investments like mutual funds, the survey found that 86% of hedge funds are registered with a regulatory agency, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the NASD or state authorities. That compares with 61% in the earlier period.

Mr. Gradante likened the changes in hedge funds to the evolution of investment banks such as Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs from the 1930s to the early 1990's. "Hedge funds are evolving in the same way investment banks evolved," he said. "They’ll play an important role in financing venture capital in the future." Mr. Gradante also noted that one of the white-shoe investment banks, Goldman Sachs, also is the nation’s No. 1 hedge fund.

Hedge Fund Breaks Asset Record

MW Tops, an Amsterdam hedge fund, has outperformed in a variety of market conditions, breaking the world record for a listed hedge fund float after successfully raising €1.5 billion. Capital was first allocated to the Tops strategy in 2002 by Marshall Wace Asset Management Limited, a London hedge fund manager.

The amount is well over three times as much as the previous record holder, an offering from the Anglo-French hedge fund group Boussard & Gavaudan, which raised €440 million, according to the Times Online.

MW Tops is chaired by the former Bank of England deputy governor Sir Andrew Large. Marshall Wace Asset Management was established in 1997 by Paul Marshall and Ian Wace and transferred its business in 2003 to Marshall Wace LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated in England and Wales.

According to Marshall Wace, the greatest interest in new hedge fund managers is being shown by rich individuals or family offices, private fund management operations devoted to managing wealth.

New investors include institutions precluded from conventional investment in illiquid, unlisted hedge funds, including some pension funds and insurance companies, as well as wealthy individuals. Investors are also attracted by the liquidity and visibility of a listed stock, where a price is also quoted. Traditional hedge funds are highly illiquid, with investors paying big penalties for sudden redemptions.

The minimum investment was set at €75,000 for the initial offering, but small investors will from today have access to MW Tops for the price of a €10 share in the secondary market.