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3 Nov 2008

Man's Investment Research Laboratory at Oxford Expands

A pioneering collaboration that brings together the best of the academic and finance worlds has been such a success that the venture has outgrown its premises, just a year after its establishment.

Man Group plc, one of the world's largest alternative investment companies, founded the Man Research Laboratory ("MRL"), in Oxford in September 2007. The role of MRL is to undertake commercial research projects for the various quantitative groups within Man, and in particular, for its wholly owned subsidiary fund manager AHL. Although quantitative techniques are widely used throughout Man, it is within AHL that they have been used extraordinarily successfully for more than twenty years.

The laboratory was established at the same time as the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance ("OMI"), which is part of the University of Oxford. Man provides the principal funding (an initial commitment of GBP 13.75 million - $21.9 million) for the institute, which shares common facilities with the laboratory.

"The partnership between Man and the University of Oxford is unique," said Dr Anthony Ledford, a senior executive at AHL and Research Director of MRL. "While other hedge fund managers have opened their own, private research centres, none has done so in partnership with the University of Oxford itself."

"The aim for both the University and Man is to create a stimulating environment of research and innovation, where ideas flourish," Dr Ledford continues. "Practitioners from a wide spectrum of disciplines can bring their skills into collaboration, and learn from each other."

Staff numbers are expected to double over the coming year. OMI, which brings together academics from a wide spectrum of Oxford University departments, already has fourteen faculty members, another fourteen associate members and four permanent academic staff - three research fellows and the institute's Director - along with twelve higher-degree students.

"The collaboration has been a great success", Dr Ledford added. "It has exceeded the expectations of both the University and Man. Planned staffing levels in both the laboratory and the institute were met ahead of schedule, and the number of applications for positions has necessitated a search for larger premises."

Although the institute and laboratory are independent of each other and follow different research programmes, there is significant interaction between them. This has benefited both parties, and OMI is attracting significant international attention. In its first year, as well as a series of over one hundred seminars and presentations, it has hosted a symposium and two conferences - one of its guest speakers being a Nobel Prize winner.

MRL has already made significant commercial contributions to Man and AHL, which specialises in systematic automated trading. A new trading model - first conceived at the laboratory - which operates on high frequency data is now actively trading the global markets and providing new sources of enhanced investment opportunities. Another benefit is the magnetic effect the laboratory is having in attracting the next generation of top talent into Man from around the world.

Dr Ledford added: "The interaction between our Research Lab and the Institute has put us at the cutting edge in our field. Looking at what we've already achieved, we're really excited about the prospects for the future."

Hedge Fund Pentwater Suspends Redemptions

In a letter to investors, Hedge Fund manager Pentwater Capital announced that due to a number of unexpected redemption notices for year-end they have suspended redemptions and withdrawals, effective immediately.

"The entire hedge fund industry is bracing for large redemptions at year-end so as not to become forced sellers in the midst of a severe market crisis," says the Pentwater letter, "In turn, this has put additional pressure on hedge fund investors to find liquidity wherever they can, because they have to fund their own potential redemptions."

"If the Fund were to meet the year-end redemption requests we have received, the Fund would be forced to sell more of its investments into one of the worst markets since the great depression."

The fund has instead opted to create two new classes that have modified liquidity, fee and expense provisions as compared with the current classes. Investors will have the choice to transfer all or part of their investment into one or both of the new classes or remain in the existing classes.

"We will allow investors that wish to invest new capital to do so in one of these new classes and until further notice allow them to retain the benefit of their existing high water mark on any new investment. Further, investors that have already submitted a redemption notice will have a one-time option to rescind that notice, reduce the size of their redemption request, and/or choose to participate in one of our new classes."

Pentwater was not immediately available for comment.

The Central Bank of Bahrain Joins Hedge Fund Summit

West Palm Beach ( - The Central Bank of Bahrain will be participating in the Hedge Funds Review, Middle East Summit in Bahrain on November 11-12, 2008.

"As the funds industry continues to gather pace in the global arena, the CBB is determined to maintain its regulatory precedence in setting up the necessary initiatives to enable this development," said Abdul Rahman Al Baker, executive director, Financial Institutions Supervision, at the CBB who will be presenting an overview of the Hedge Funds Market and regulation in Bahrain on the first day of the event.

The two-day summit organised by Incisive Media will be addressed by Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Finance and Tarek Sakka, CEO of Ajeej Capital.

This will be the second time the event will be held in Bahrain. More than 250 major investors from across the region are likely to attend the summit, along side leading fund managers from Mena, Europe and the US discussing innovative alternative investment strategies.

The sessions will highlight opinions from expert investment managers, and views from academics on the global credit crisis.

Alex Akesson

Editor for HedgeCo.Net

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Polygon Concedes to British Energy, Winds Down Flagship Hedge Fund

Alternative investor, Polygon Investment Partners LLP has agreed not to further oppose the restructuring of the company by British Energy and other shareholders, in exchange the shareholders and British Energy have agreed to stop all outstanding legal actions against Polygon.

In the circumstances, Polygon believes that there is no commercial logic in proceeding with the EGM or supporting the proposed resolutions.

Polygon has also frozen redemptions on their $4bn flagship multi-strategy fund, Global Opportunities, while it unwinds the fund and returns money to investors.

Polygon Investment Partners LLP ("Polygon") is a global private investment firm based in London and New York, investing in a wide range of publicly traded securities. The firm currently has over $1.35 billion under management.