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22 Sep 2009

Hedge Fund Performance for August - Morningstar

Hedge funds' good fortunes persisted in August according to a preliminary hedge fund performance report from Morninstar.

"Hedge fund returns in August were driven by strong equity markets throughout the developed world," said Nadia Papagiannis, Morningstar hedge fund analyst. “Many hedge funds claim to be uncorrelated to the markets, but it appears that the rising tide of the market has lifted all boats, including hedge funds.”

The Morningstar 1000 Hedge Fund Index and the currency-hedged Morningstar MSCI Composite Hedge Fund Index rose 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively in August. For the year to date through August, these indexes increased 13.7% and 9.5%, respectively.

Developed countries' stock markets rallied for the sixth straight month on positive news in areas such as manufacturing. The Morningstar MSCI Developed Markets Hedge Fund Index appreciated in August by 1.9%, with the Morningstar MSCI Europe Equity Hedge Fund Index outperforming with an increase of 2.9%, as European stock markets hit 11-month highs on better-than-expected economic data in France and Germany. In the United States, continuing the year-long trend, smaller-company equities outperformed larger-cap stocks. The Morningstar US Small Cap Equity Hedge Fund Index rose 1.9% versus the Morningstar US Equity Hedge Fund Index's 1.4% rise.

Emerging market equities stagnated in August, with gains in Eastern Europe and certain other countries offset by steep losses in China. The Shanghai Composite Index experienced a severe sell-off, dropping nearly 7% on the last day of the month to its lowest level since May. The sell-off was fueled by fears that the Chinese government may curb stimulus measures. The Morningstar Emerging Markets Equity Hedge Fund Index rose 1.6%, as many funds in this index had lighter weightings in China than did the index.

The big winners in August were hedge funds that trade distressed securities. Credit markets, notably the more speculative ones, continued to rebound in August, though the pace of appreciation has slowed. Global corporate bond issuance broke 2007 levels in August, improving liquidity, and leveraged loan prices reached 12-month highs with some new issues. The Morningstar Distressed Securities Hedge Fund Index rallied 4.1%.

August returns and July asset flows for the Morningstar Hedge Fund Indexes are based on funds that reported as of Sept. 17, 2009. Returns for the Morningstar MSCI Hedge Fund Indexes are based on funds that reported August performance as of Sept. 14, 2009.

Open Europe Hedge Fund Survey Findings

Based on two surveys of private equity managers and hedge fund managers, carried out during August 2009, Open Europe has published the most comprehensive study to date of the likely impact of the EU's proposed Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive. Among the findings is that the hedge fund and private equity industries contribute €9 billion ($13.3 billion) in tax revenues to European Union (EU) governments.

Open Europe said that the €9 billion ($13.3 billion) tax contribution would be enough to fund the EU’s entire overseas aid budget for 12 years. The tax contribution also matches the value of the EU’s Cohesion and Aid Programmes for Poland and is just short of the subsidy that France receives each year under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

“Alternative investment fund managers provide investments and create growth, jobs and more efficient markets across Europe,” the report said.

The survey also found that the UK hedge fund and private equity industries contribute about €6.1 billion ($9 billion) in tax revenues to HMRC. Open Europe said this would be enough to pay for more than 200,000 nurses, 45,000 hospital consultants or 165,000 teachers. In just two years, the tax revenues generated by alternative investment fund managers would be able to pay for the entire 2012 London Olympics, according to Open Europe. But if the tax revenues were to disappear, Open Europe said it would take a 20% increase in council tax in order to make up the shortfall.

The European Commission’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) directive would cost the hedge fund and private equity industries in the EU between €1.3 billion and €1.9 billion ($1.9 billion and $2.8 billion) in its first year, if implemented in its current form. The annual recurring cost would be between €689 million and €985 million ($1 billion and $1.4 billion). Respondents said their total compliance costs would increase by almost one-third on average.

The report commented: “Our surveys show that unless a range of amendments take place, the AIFM directive will impose substantial costs across the board, without offering sufficient benefits for the industry, investors and the wider economy… In a worst-case scenario, thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenues could be at stake.”

Open Europe received 121 responses from hedge fund managers and fund of fund managers representing $342 billion assets under management. Just over half of the respondents came from managers located in the UK, while over one-fifth came from the rest of the EU and around one-quarter from the rest of the world. Open Europe also received 41 responses from private equity managers primarily based in the UK, representing funds under management of over $204 billion.

The report can be downloaded from Open Europe’s website at