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21 Dec 2007

Large Hedge Funds Taking Over From Smaller Counterparts

According to a report by research and data provider Hedge Fund Research, about 863 funds were launched through the third quarter, nearly half the amount for all of
2006. About 408 asset pools were liquidated compared with 717 in 2006.

In 2003, 1,094 new funds were introduced. Liquidations fell to an industry low of
296 funds in 2004.

Kenneth Heinz, Hedge Fund Research president, said investor requirements for size and infrastructure may be making it more challenging to launch a new fund, “In the third quarter of this year, investors allocated nearly 90% of new capital to funds with greater than $1bn (€695.8bn) already under management.”

Big hedge funds tower over the industry. Heinz said less than 10% of hedge funds controlled 73.5% of capital for the year through the third quarter. Half of the $45bn in new hedge fund capital in the third quarter was allocated to funds of hedge funds.

Heinz said that although some collapses were caused by bad investments tied to the sub-prime mortgage market, he said the majority of funds were closed because they failed to meet the expectations of fund managers or investors.

20 Dec 2007

HFR Says Fewer Hedge Fund Launches in 2007

Hedge fund launches slowed in 2007 for the third year in a row, a sign investors may be putting money into existing funds rather than into new ones with perceived higher risks, according to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research.

863 funds were launched in the roughly $1.9 trillion industry by the end of the third quarter, compared with 1,518 new funds for all of 2006 and 2,073 launches in 2005. Liquidations also slowed, with 408 funds closing by the third quarter 2007, compared with 717 for 2006 and 848 for 2005, HFR said on Wednesday.

HFR also said that the slowing launches and liquidations in an industry with more than 9,000 funds suggests investors are more inclined to allocate to larger, more established hedge funds, which are likely to be more diversified and have better risk controls.

"In the third quarter of this year, investors allocated nearly 90 percent of new capital to funds with greater than $1 billion already under management," said HFR. "Investor requirements for size and infrastructure may be making it more challenging to launch a new fund."

That contrasts with previous years, when investors often clamored to invest in the latest funds, particularly those founded by high-profile former investment bank proprietary traders.

Private Equity Firms & Hedge Funds May Face Key Man Risk

Despite current investor and media attention on unexpected CEO turnover at major public companies, key man risk, the risk that the departure of a key executive or group of executives will lower credit quality, is more prevalent and a risk to credit quality among private equity firms and hedge funds, says Moody’s Investor Service.

“Recent departures at some large financial companies have brought to the fore the need for effective succession planning and management development, but also highlighted that large firms can usually cope with such departures, however unsettling,” says Moody’s vice-president Janet Holmes. “Hedge funds and private equity firms, however, can face considerably more acute CEO [or founder] leadership transition risk.”

Like other firms with founding CEOs, hedge funds and private equity firms face key man risk because they have often been created by successful founder executives who have played a central role in building a franchise and are closely linked with its business, brand and success. However, unlike most other major companies, these firms face additional key man risk because one or a handful of investors may hold most, if not all, of the voting stock.

Generally speaking, older firms will be more likely to have their equity distributed away from their founder, while private equity firms are less likely than hedge funds to have a single owner.

18 Dec 2007

Hedge Funds Ahead for November

Hedge fund returns remained in double digits for the year despite a 1.6 percent dip in November, according to the Greenwich Global Hedge Fund Index. Putting hedge funds ahead of a trio of broad stock indexes through the year's first 11 months.

Among the hedge fund strategies tracked by the index, the Specialty Strategies Group led the pack, up 16.5 percent despite a 1.9 percent drop in November triggered by a fall in emerging markets.

Through November, the GGHFI was up 10.5 percent compared with 6.2 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500, 8 percent for MSCI World Equity, and 3.4 percent for the FTSE 100.

The Long-Short Equity Group lost 2.3 percent in November but was up 10.8 percent for the year. The Directional Trading Group, which bets on futures, was up 9.4 percent for the year, while the Market Neutral Group, was up 7.7 percent through November.

Hedge Fund Launch Expected From GMP Capital

GMP Capital Trust is expected to announced the launch of a new hedge fund this year, according to Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail. The $50-million hedge fund is to be co-headed by star trader Michael Wekerle.

The firm will put up $20-million, employees will add their own money and outside investors will be invited to join, according to the paper. GMP is following a blueprint drawn up by houses such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which gleans more than half its revenue from smart investments with its own capital. All the major Canadian dealers also have proprietary trading funds that use hedge fund strategies.

If the fund can build a successful track record, sources at GMP say they anticipate it will attract support from wealthy individuals and outside institutions such as pension funds, which have embraced alternative asset managers in recent years.

The new hedge fund is expected to deploy four investment strategies. There will be a traditional equity trading approach that includes taking long and short positions, the fund will also do credit trading, which would include buying distressed debt, plus what's known as program or algorithmic trading and options-based volatility investing.

Successful hedge funds created by domestic dealers include three-year old Flatiron Capital Management Partners, a $350-million (Canadian) fund backed by National Bank Financial and staffed by its former employees.

Calvert Launches Alternative Energy Opportunities Abroad

Dublin based mutul fund manager Calvert Inc. announced the launched this year of the Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund. The new hedge fund invests in a broad universe of U.S. and non-U.S. stocks, seeking out companies that are alternative energy market leaders as well as those building a significant presence in the sector.

Jens Peers, head of ECO Investing at Dublin-based KBC Asset Management International Ltd. and lead portfolio manager of the Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund, said: “Non-U.S. companies and markets will benefit from the improving prospects for alternative energy in 2008 because Europe, Asia and other regions are further along than the U.S in addressing climate change and oil dependency by embracing alternative energy technologies.”

Over the long term, according to their website, Calvert believes that alternative energy technologies will become an increasingly significant solution to the global energy and climate change challenges. The firm believes it will take multiple strategies to address climate change and therefore advocates a broad range of solutions, such as greater energy efficiency and aggressive development of renewable energy sources.

The Fund was launched on May 31, 2007 and is advised by Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc. Calvert is one of the nation’s largest socially responsible mutual fund firms with approximately $16 billion in assets under management offering 41 funds that allow individual and institutional investors to pursue a broad range of investment objectives within a single fund family.

14 Dec 2007

A Challenging Year For Hedge Funds Ends Well

The 2007 Credit Suisse Index shows that hedge funds have outperformed many major global equity indices for the year while maintaining considerably less volatility.

According to Oliver Schupp, President of the Credit Suisse Tremont Index, LLC, the Index finished the period with estimated annual returns of 12.1% for 2007 year to date through November 30.

“We are pleased to present a research piece analyzing the performance of the Credit Suisse/Tremont Hedge Fund Index for 2007,” said Mr. Schupp. “Hedge funds experienced a challenging year due to certain market events but finished the year through November 30 by outperforming many major global equity indices while maintaining considerably less volatility.”

2007 was characterized by unusually high levels of volatility that impacted hedge fund strategies and financial markets throughout the year. A major sell-off in China in late February sparked fears of an Asian crisis reminiscent of 1997. Unexpected liquidation of several high profile hedge funds, as well as November’s equity sell-off in markets worldwide. Nevertheless, hedge fund strategies performed well and the Broad Index returned 2.0% in the fourth quarter with all 10 sectors in positive territory through November 30th.

The asset management business of Credit Suisse is comprised of a number of legal entities around the world that are subject to distinct regulatory requirements; certain asset management products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all client types.

Hedge Funds Sector Positioned To Recover Quickly, F&C Partner Speculates

Commenting on the subprime crisis, Francois Barthelemy, partner at hedge fund F&C Partners said, "Hedge funds tend to suffer in very volatile environments but well-managed portfolios often recover quickly, once the market has come back to some sort of rational pricing of assets."

Despite the recent volatility that led many to describe November as the 'bloodiest' month for hedge funds, the sector is well positioned to benefit from the current turmoil.

Barthelemy explained, "The real question that people are struggling with is that there are a number of signs indicating that we might be moving into recession territory. We have had three great years where the way to make money was about growth and it seems we are now moving into a very different environment."

He belives, "the solution requires the raising of fresh capital and the selling of impaired assets to investors who will have the ability to work them through bankruptcies or restructuring," he said. "Only hedge funds have the legal and investment expertise to buy that type of assets and they are likely to do really well as a result of it."

Between December 2000 and December 2004, the Credit Suisse Tremont Distressed Hedge Fund Index was up +72%, while the MSCI World Index was down -2%. "We expect the next few years will see a repeat of this scenario."

Outside distressed assets, there are also attractive opportunities in a number of traditional investment sectors but not on a standalone basis. "While alpha is now easier to find, the beta of the market may kill you. This means it is the best of times for hedged strategies that aim to take most of the beta out of the return," he said.

Barthelemy, whose team is responsible for the management of the F&C Balanced Alpha Fund of Hedge Funds and the F&C Select Alpha Fund of Hedge Funds, concluded, "There is not doubt the world is very volatile and I don't think that buying just equity will work in the next few years. Volatility is not going to go away for a while and you will need a strategy that can cope with that. For me that means hedge funds."

13 Dec 2007

Alternative Energy Fund Launch by Guinness Atkinson

Guiness Atkinson Asset Management has launched an alternative energy fund for UK and European investors. The fund is managed by a team of three fund managers, Tim Guinness as the Lead Manager and Edward Guinness and Matthew Page as Co-Managers.

With a 50/50 top-down/bottom-up approach, the fund looks to identify the sub sectors within the space which have the greatest potential for growth and strong returns.

Tim Guinness said in an interview with Alt Energy Stocks, "I have been running a conventional energy fund since 1998 and have been following alternative energy stocks as a sub sector within the energy universe since then."

"Recently we have preferred wind and solar over fuel cells and biofuels but this is constantly under review." Guinness said, "We then screen the universe of 200 stocks we have identified to try and identify good companies that are cheap where sentiment towards them is improving and stock price action is positive. One tool we use is to screen by value, earnings momentum, economic returns vs peers, and a technical indicator."

Alternative energy includes, but is not limited to power generated through solar, wind, hydroelectric, tidal wave, geothermal, biomass or biofuels. Energy technology includes technologies that enable these sources to be tapped and also various manners of storage and transportation of energy, including hydrogen and other types of fuel cells, batteries and flywheels, as well as technologies that conserve or enable more efficient use of energy.

12 Dec 2007

Hedge Funds Low in November but High Year To Date

The Greenwich Global Hedge Fund Index is up +10.53% year-to-date despite falling -1.61% in November, and it continues to outpace equities for the month and year.

Ben Rossman, Senior Vice President of Greenwich Alternative Investments noted that, “Hedge fund performance, which was less severe than that felt by the equity markets, highlights their unique ability to limit the downside.”

All four equity indices were down by more than 4% in November: the S&P 500, MSCI World Equity, and FTSE 100 Indices posted -4.18% (+6.23% YTD), -4.24% (+7.97% YTD), and -4.30% (+3.41% YTD), respectively.

The November Index currently includes 1,325 funds. Final November results will be posted in early January, once additional funds have submitted returns.

Greenwich Alternative Investments, LLC (and its affiliates) is among the oldest providers of hedge fund indices, asset management services and research to institutional investors worldwide.

Hedge Funds Experiencing Staff Shortages

According to a new survey conducted by CPA firm Rothstein Kass, nearly 70% of hedge funds are having difficulty retaining back-office personnel. "Hedge funds have seen tremendous inflows of capital in recent years, a trend that has accelerated as sophisticated investors seek to mitigate risk in volatile market conditions," said Howard Altman, Co-Managing Principal of Rothstein Kass.

"However, as our research reveals, the rapid pace of industry growth has left back-offices more pressured than ever before. Firms of all sizes are struggling to retain qualified personnel amid existing staffing shortages, including the CFO and COO levels. These problems will only be exacerbated by the industry's increasing institutional focus, since these investors generally demand stricter reporting and compliance capabilities."

Survey findings were based on interviews with over 500 Chief Financial Officers at direct investment hedge funds with at least $100 million in assets under management.

Firms in the study are representative of a wide range of investment styles, experience levels and assets under management. Approximately half had assets between $100 and $999 million. A quarter reported assets of between $1 and $2.99 billion, and the balance were firms with assets in excess of $3 billion.

The study was commissioned and results analyzed by the Rothstein Kass Executive Search Group, which specializes in the recruitment and placement of senior financial executives and staff at alternative investments companies.

"It was clear to us from our daily interactions with clients, that's a time of unprecedented opportunity for talented individuals looking for an exciting career in the hedge fund industry."

Findings are summarized in "The Compensation Conundrum," co- authored by Russ Alan Prince, a leading authority and counselor on private wealth, and Hannah Shaw Grove, a widely recognized expert on behaviors and finances of high-net-worth individuals.

"The Compensation Conundrum" also provides 2007 total compensation projections for key non-investment roles at hedge fund organizations, including CFO, COO and Controller. Figures are composed of base salary and bonus. "Our compensation figures offer ranges for total compensation by position and will serve as a benchmark for future research." said Todd Noah.

4 Dec 2007

Hedge Fund Operator Acquired For $1.32 Billion

In a deal worth up to $1.32 billion, London hedge fund operator Marble Bar Asset Management LLP has been bought by Swiss private banking group EFG International.

EFG said it will initially pay $517 million in cash, plus a further $300 million to $800 million over the next six years, depending on the performance of Marble Bar's funds. Of the initial cash payment to Marble Bar partners and staff, about $400 million will be reinvested in Marble Bar funds for up to six years.

In a press release yesterday, EFG said that the purchase broadens its capabilities in hedge funds and brings the hedge fund-related assets it manages to around $13.3 billion , or 18% of clients funds. Last year, EFG bought fund of hedge funds manager C.M. Advisors for an undisclosed amount.

According to Hedge Fund Research Inc., investors have poured $164 billion into hedge funds in the first nine months of 2007, boosting global assets to $1.8 trillion.

Chief Executive of EFG, Lonnie Howell, said buying Marble Bar gives the bank access to "sheer talent" and will help it meet demand from wealthy individuals for hedge fund investments.

Marble Bar's 2008 net profit is expected be at least $80 million to $100 million EFG said, meaning the purchase price is about 10 times estimated earnings.

3 Dec 2007

Dexion Fund Of Hedge Funds Raise $274.4 Million

Dexion Absolute Limited has now become one of the world's largest exchange-traded funds of hedge funds (FOHF) with net assets of GBP 512 million ($1,056.5 million).

The London Stock Exchange-listed FOHF completed the multi-currency share issue raising GBP 133 million ($274.4 million). The issue was sponsored by Hoare Govett Limited, a member of the ABN AMRO group.

Dexion director Nick Browne said, "We are very pleased with the response to this issue. We have built on the foundations established earlier this year in a number of jurisdictions across Europe and Asia, received strong support from many existing shareholders and gained a wide range of significant new pension fund and other institutional investors."

Bob Cowdell, managing director at ABN AMRO, is quick to point out the significance of the share issue. "This is the largest capital-raising to date in the London-listed funds of hedge funds sector," he says. "It has more than doubled the size of the Company's Euro and US Dollar share classes introduced earlier this year.'

The fund of hedge funds provides direct access to Harris Alternatives LLC manager of the 'Aurora' range of funds. With a 17-year investment record Harris Alternatives currently manages in excess of $7 billion in funds of hedge funds and segregated accounts.

Dexion's investment objective is to generate consistent long-term capital appreciation with low volatility and little correlation to the general equity and bond markets through a portfolio having a diversified risk profile. The FOHF has a database of approximately 550 FOHF managers.