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Hedgemedia’s AltInvestment Global News Round-Up: Copper Arch’s Sipprelle shuts up shop as performance lags industry

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Well-regarded equity hedge fund manager Scott Sipprelle is shuttering his New York management firm Copper Arch Capital and will return money to clients starting at the end of the year.

Well-regarded equity hedge fund manager Scott Sipprelle is shuttering his New York management firm Copper Arch Capital and will return money to clients starting at the end of the year. Sipprelle, a Morgan Stanley alumnus, could generate only a 1 per cent gain for the 10 months to October 31, compared with an average of 12 per cent across the industry, according to returns tracked by Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research.

The mediocre performance is in contrast to last year, when Copper Arch’s 16 per cent return exceeded the industry average by some 3 per cent. Sipprelle established Copper Arch in 2003 and managed USD966m of assets at the end of March this year. He told investors he’s looking for ‘new challenges’.

After steep losses in August, Goldman Sachs continues to struggle to turn around its once high-flying Global Alpha Fund. The fund had declined in value by 37 per cent as of mid-November, including a 22.5 per cent drop in August alone as currency and stock bets went awry.

The fund is reported to have started the year with USD10bn of assets continues to suffer redemptions and investors are expected to withdraw a further USD2bn during this quarter. Since September, portfolio managers Mark Carhart and Raymond Iwanowski have been attempting to dig the fund out of a hole. Global Alpha lost 9 per cent in 2006 after posting an impressive gain of 40 per cent the year before.

BlackRock splashes out in Australia and Japan
US fund manager BlackRock Investment Management last week made its biggest property acquisition in Australia worth USD160m and spent a further USD100m in Tokyo as it gears up to launch an Asia-Pacific property fund in April. New York-based BlackRock will raise about USD1bn for its property fund from pension fund investors and plans also to invest in Korea, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

In Queensland, the firm has bought three buildings from Energy Industries Superannuation Scheme. Paul Healy, BlackRock’s Melbourne-based property head, expects to buy other Australian assets, which could grow to 10 per cent of the future fund’s portfolio. BlackRock already manages a total of USD28bn in real estate assets.

Separately, BlackRock will manage the USD75bn superfund being put together by the top three US banks with backing from the US Treasury to buy assets from cash-strapped structured investment vehicles and to head off the threat of a fire sale of credit instruments. SIVs set up by banks worldwide are having trouble renewing their main commercial paper funding due to investor concern about their exposure to the battered sub-prime mortgage sector.

Bear Stearns asset management chief to leave with USD23m
Warren Spector, the former head of Bear Stearns’ embattled asset management division, will quit the New York firm next month with USD23m. Spector resigned as Bear Stearns’s co-president and co-head of operations in August after two mortgage-debt hedge funds he oversaw imploded, but stayed on as a managing director until December 28. He began working at the company as a trader in 1983 and was once considered a likely successor to chief executive James Cayne.

New Mexico’s USD13bn Public Employees Retirement Association continues its push into alternatives. It has allocated USD35m each to equity vehicle Ascend Capital and Pendragon Fund, a European event-driven fund. The latest round of allocations follows USD100m in commitments made last month to three alternative funds.

Och-Ziff Capital Management saw its share price fall 20 per cent in its debut week as a publicly listed company. As a result, Dubai International Capital, its biggest investor with a 9.9 per cent stake acquired simultaneously with the New York Stock Exchange listing, has already suffered a paper loss of some USD244m.

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