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16 Jul 2008

Two New Additions To BNP Paribas’ Hedge Fund Team

BNP Paribas has appointed Thomas Mahala and Jason Miller to its global hedge fund relationship management team (HFRM). BNP Paribas now has over a dozen relationship management professionals located in New York, London and Hong Kong serving the interests of global hedge fund clients.

"We look forward to Tom and Jason, two senior and highly respected hedge fund relationship management professionals, joining the global effort." Talbot Stark said, "BNP Paribas’s hedge fund business has benefited from its expanding global capabilities, financial strength and most recent acquisition of Banc of America’s prime brokerage unit".

Thomas Mahala joins the team in New York; he joins Chris Lane as co-head of HFRM in the Americas. Thomas joins from Banc of America Securities where he worked most recently as a Managing Director and head of the Capital Introduction group. Prior to this role he worked as a senior relationship manager for institutional accounts including hedge funds. Previously, he spent 7 years at Bear Stearns as a senior relationship manager for hedge funds. Thomas joins BNP Paribas with over 23 years of experience and successes in relationship management, prime brokerage and risk management.

Jason Miller joins the New York team to work as a senior relationship manager. He joins from Banc of America where he most recently worked as a senior relationship manager for hedge fund clients. Prior to that, he spent two years at Credit Suisse as a relationship manager for institutional securities relationships. Jason brings 16 years of experience from Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Citigroup in relationship management. He reports to Chris Lane and Thomas Mahala.

In 2008, BNP Paribas was named ‘Structured Products House of the Year’ by Risk magazine and in 2007, was named ‘Equity Derivatives House of the Year’ also by Risk magazine‘. North American awards include ‘North American Structured Products House of the Year’ by Structured Products Magazine and ‘Best Equity Derivatives house in North America’ by Global Finance magazine.

BNP Paribas Corporate and Investment banking division has almost 16,000 employees, deployed in 53 countries around the world.

Hedge Fund Manager Pali, Hires M&A Veteran In Expansion

Hedge fund manager Pali Capital has hired M&A veteran Randal V. Stephenson as a Senior Managing Director and Head of its new Corporate Advisory Group.

"Pali is in the midst of a major, global expansion,” said Brad Reifler, to whom Stephenson will report, "Since we are committed to providing world-class investment banking products and services, we see Randal as a vital part of our plan to build out a competitive mergers and acquisitions practice on a global scale. Randal has the right mix of skills and experience, and we look forward to working with him."

Stephenson will be based in New York and will lead the build-out of a mergers, acquisitions and corporate advisory practice to compliment a broader investment banking platform.

"Pali's core clients, hedge fund, are among the most active in the global deal market," said Mr. Stephenson, "and are eagerly searching for new opportunities to apply capital and achieve enhanced investor returns. I look forward to helping Pali build a world-class mergers and acquisitions practice that should have no equal in the middle market."

Mr. Stephenson is assembling a team of seasoned bankers with experience in distressed and special situation transactions, as well as cross-border M&A deal experience, particularly in Asia. The team’s services for Pali’s core client base of hedge funds and institutional investors include originating distressed and special-situation opportunities for equity or debt investment, helping funds seek strategic alternatives for underperforming portfolio investments, and assisting and advising in shareholder activism.

Prior to Pali, Stephenson was the Head of Middle Market Mergers & Acquisitions and the Head of Distressed & Special Situations M&A at CIT Group, Inc. Stephenson is a member of the Turnaround Management Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the bars of Massachusetts and New York.

Pali is an independent, global, full-service institutional securities firm and investment bank that has served leading hedge funds and money managers since 1995. The hedge fund manager is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Singapore, Boston and Minneapolis.

Morningstar Reports Low End to Quarter

In a summary of hedge fund performance for the second quarter of 2008, Morningstar, Inc. marked June as a bad end to a good quarter. The Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index fell 0.73% during the month, pushing down second-quarter returns to 2.07%. Year to date, the index is up only 0.31%, as hedge funds struggled through poor market conditions.

Overall, hedge funds, including funds of hedge funds, buffered the traditional stock and bond markets over the second quarter. Equity and bond markets saw losses all over the world, while the Morningstar Fund of Hedge Funds Index gained 1.43%. Over the last year, the Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index and the Morningstar Fund of Hedge Funds Index outperformed the major global stock indexes, which experienced double-digit declines (with the exception of emerging markets). Both hedge funds and funds of hedge funds underperformed bond markets, however, over this same period.

“Equity markets suffered steep declines in June,” said Morningstar hedge fund analyst Nadia Van Dalen. “Volatility returned to levels not seen since March, amid fears of recession and rising inflation. Most hedge funds are not immune to these economic shocks, despite what their name might imply.”

There were significant exceptions. Over the last 12 months, the Morningstar Global Trend Hedge Fund Index, which tracks funds that profit from price trends in futures, options and currencies, benefited from the sharp rise in commodity prices, returning over 18% (3.28% in June). Funds in the Morningstar Global Non-trend Hedge Fund Index, those that take macro-economic bets on interest rates and currencies, benefited from the falling dollar and the rising Euro, earning 0.33% in June and more than 12% over the last 12 months. The last 12 months also saw high volatility. Those equity arbitrage funds that specialize in trading volatility helped drive the Morningstar Equity Arbitrage Hedge Fund Index to a gain of more than 8.57% in the last year and 1.12% in June.

Not surprisingly, these top-performing categories have also experienced the most inflows. For the period ending May 31 (asset flow reporting lags performance reporting), hedge fund investors poured more than $6 billion into global trend funds and $2.4 billion into global non-trend funds tracked by Morningstar. On the opposite end of the spectrum, investors fled the U.S. equity and Europe equity hedge funds in the Morningstar database, taking more than $7.7 billion and $6.9 billion out of these categories, respectively.

Morningstar’s hedge fund flow data also show that, through May, assets moved to the Morningstar-rated 4-, and 5-star hedge funds, and redeemed the 1-, 2-, and 3-star hedge funds. Four- and 5-star hedge funds received more than $10 billion in new assets through May, while 1- and 2-star hedge funds bled almost $10 billion in assets over the same period.

Returns of Morningstar’s Broad Category Indexes, indexes that group funds in related categories, highlight that the event-driven funds were the hardest hit. This index includes funds in the Morningstar Corporate Actions and Distressed Securities Categories, which sometimes take bets on depressed or out-of-favor companies, and look for a reversal over the longer-term. These bets may look worse before they look better, given the economic conditions.

Morningstar has approximately 8,500 hedge funds and funds of hedge funds in its database and is is a leading provider of independent investment research in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Editing By Alex Akesson

IRS Restricts Deduction of Fund of Funds’ Management Fees

In a recent IRS Revenue Ruling addressing the tax treatment of management fees incurred in a “fund of funds” structure, the IRS’s has severely restricted UPTs (upper tier partnerships) from obtaining tax benefits from management fees.

In a typical fund of funds structure, an investment is made by a limited partner into an UTP which in turn invests in several lower teir partnerships (LTPs). Both groups pay an annual management fee to an investment manager based on assets under management. Since each LTP was, on the facts assumed by the IRS, engaged in the trading of securities, the management fee is an ordinary and necessary business expense and can still recieve tax benefits.

However, the UTP’s sole activity consisted of acquiring, holding, and disposing of interests in the LTPs while receiving a share of income, gain, loss, deduction and credit, therefore ruling these fees non-deductable in most cases.

In the ruling, the IRS examined prior cases of entitlement to deductions and these cases also viewed the partner, even a limited partner, as engaged in the trade or business of the partnership.