Heavy start-up traffic set for first quarter in Asia-Pacific

January 06, 2014  

The line-up of promising new hedge fund start-ups looks set to pick up in the first quarter of 2014.

Several managers, including commodity-focused Tudor spin-off Stewart Asia in Singapore and global macro operation Mount Nathan Advisors, have confirmed plans to push ahead with their new launches this month, while a number of others are planning to launch in the first quarter.

Geoffrey Barker, the well-regarded former Ballingal Investment Advisors portfolio manager, has confirmed a 1 March target launch date for his Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Asia Macro Fund that is expected to start with at least $100 million.

Barker, one of the most respected macro-focused managers in the region, used to run the successful BIA Pacific Macro Fund but left in the middle of last year to team up with UK’s City Financial to kickstart his new strategy – which will follow the approach of his successful previous macro fund. Several of his key team members from Ballingal are understood to have joined him in his new role.

Also angling to launch early in the new year is the big new Millennium spin-off Symmetry Investments, the strategy spearheaded by portfolio manager Feng Guo and Michael Robinson.

The vehicle is understood to be launching at around the same time as Barker is starting his macro fund. “Start-up money is no problem for them they are 100% backed by Millennium and are assured of running at least $1 billion of assets under a managed account,” said one source.

Jeffrey Yap, the former head of fixed-income trading for Asia at Mizuho Securities Asia, is also targeting the launch of his new multi-strategy credit strategy in the first quarter, most likely in early January. Yap left Mizuho in May last year after working at the firm for three years.

Another Hong Kong-based manager looking to launch in the first quarter is Eicher Capital, a relative value fund. The strategy will be run by Pradeep Swamy, a former managing director at Barclays Asia, who has teamed up with Frank Lam, a former colleague at Cheyne Capital where he worked before as a portfolio manager.

At Cheyne, Swamy managed equity-linked strategies in Asian markets that targeted absolute returns through a multi-strategy market-neutral approach. Before Cheyne, he had worked at Och-Ziff Capital Management.

Swamy started his career at Credit Suisse First Boston, where he worked for seven years within the equity derivatives and convertibles unit of the bank. His partner Lam has previously worked at Morgan Stanley and China Asset Management (Hong Kong).

Besides the big new players entering the Asian hedge fund market that are likely to dominate investor attention in the first few weeks of the year, there are several other smaller launches that are planning to start quietly before ramping up their marketing initiatives.

Omar Taheri, the Singapore-based business development officer at the Swiss Asia fund platform, said at the end of 2013 that a “significant” number of fund managers were aiming for January launch dates in what he believes will be an exciting time for the industry.

“There are a lot of large-size launches in the first quarter, but also a very attractive pipeline of smaller managers. In our platform, at least four funds are targeting to launch,” he said, noting that the increasing variety of strategies was a further sign of the healthy state of the industry.

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