Experienced credit trader and portfolio manager Iftikhar Ali
has gone live with a novel new hedge fund entrant to the
ever-growing European credit arena, with the launch of
London-based Rhodium Capital.
Ali – who has previously worked during his 20-year
career as a proprietary trader at top US banks and as a fund
manager with several leading hedge funds, and who is the
firm’s CIO – has co-founded Rhodium
together with CEO and chief risk officer Jeffrey Tirman.
Tirman has also worked in the credit markets for more than
two decades. He formerly founded and ran for 16 years his own
credit-focused hedge fund firm Talisman Capital, and he also
has extensive experience and contacts in the investment banking
and asset management worlds.
Both men are well-connected in the credit space and are
significant investors in the newly-launched Rhodium Global
Credit Fund – which went live at the start of November
with initial capital of $30 million and is one of the first new
European hedge funds to be fully compliant with all aspects of
the new AIFMD requirements.
Rhodium’s multi-strategy approach to credit
draws on Ali’s experience both as a prop trader
– where he worked for several years as head of CDS
trading at Salomon/Citi in the early growth years of the
development of the European credit and derivatives markets, and
then as head of international credit prop trading at Bank of
America – and more recently in the hedge fund
Having left BofA in 2009 – after overseeing a
highly profitable operation for the bank during the credit
market meltdown in 2008 – Ali joined Moore spin-out
James Caird Asset Management as a portfolio manager for
European investment grade and emerging market credit.
He then moved to the London operation of Izzy
Englander’s US-based Millennium Management, where
he ran a global credit portfolio, before most recently managing
an EM credit portfolio at Observatory – the
long-running London-based credit firm that is now part of the
Stockholm-headquartered Brummer & Partners multi-strategy
hedge fund group.
Ali is supported on the investment side by experienced
quantitative and risk modelling expert Yash Ganeshan –
who previously worked in Ali’s prop trading team
at BofA – and by another analyst who will join the
team early in 2014 from a major investment firm.
On the operations and business management side, Tirman is
supported by Rhys Pitt – who formerly spent eight
years at Citi Capital Advisors, the bank’s hedge
fund operation that recently span out as the independent Napier
Global Capital firm, and who also previously worked at Goldman
Sachs for three years – as vice president of
operations and finance. Another recruit on the ops side will
also join shortly.
Over his long career in the credit markets, Ali is
understood to have generated a stellar track record with his
evolving credit strategy – achieving an annualised
return of some 16% during the highly turbulent last eight years
in the markets, and with a Sharpe ratio in excess of 2.
He is believed to have made money in both 2008 and 2011, and
has a strong history of protecting capital through difficult
periods as well as maximising returns when conditions have been
A shadow portfolio that the team have been running since
July is said to have generated returns of almost 10% in the
four months to the end of October, net of all expenses other
than incentive fees.
The strategy is fundamentally-driven – spanning
fundamental value credit positions and more opportunistic
long/short credit trading together with relative value, capital
structure arbitrage, CDS spread arbitrage and event-related
But the portfolio also combines a unique quantitative
overlay that is designed to protect the fund from unwanted
macro/external risks and isolate the desired risk/return
characteristics of the portfolio.
Although strongly rooted in European credit,
Rhodium’s investment approach will take a more
global opportunistic approach in terms of primary market credit
activity, including areas such as the Middle East and Asia.
Having opted against any kind of seeding deal,
Rhodium’s initial investor base comprises a
diverse range of institutions and individuals – while
there is also the facility to run segregated managed accounts
for investors, so long as they are managed pari passu with the
core fund strategy.