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Hedgemedia’s AltInvestment Global News Round-Up: Martello fails to surmount growth hurdle

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Fund-of-funds manager Martello Investment Management of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is liquidating.

Fund-of-funds manager Martello Investment Management of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is liquidating. The firm advises on USD750m of assets in global macro, quantitative and relative value investments but failed to generate ‘sufficient asset growth’ in its USD250m hedge fund portfolio despite delivering positive yearly returns since its launch in 2002. David McCarthy, a GAM alumnus who ran Martello with nine other professionals, plans to wind down the firm over the course of the summer. The firm also maintained an office in London.

Blackstone Group is launching an Asia-focused hedge fund business. Aaron Nieman, who previously worked at SAC Capital affiliate Canvas Capital Management in San Francisco, is now a senior managing director at the new Blackstone unit, dubbed Blackstone Altius Advisors, which will be run out of Hong Kong. Christopher Pesce is its operating chief while Eric Rosenberg is chief financial officer.

Nicholas Maounis is planning a second act. The former head of notorious hedge fund casualty Amaranth Advisors is establishing a firm called Veriton Fund Management in Greenwich, Connecticut, later this year with at least USD200m in assets. He will not charge former Amaranth investors any performance fees for three years. Additionally, investors will foot the bill for expenses but will not pay a management fee. Initial strategies will include quantitative bonds, loans and special situations.

Fidelity International’s former head of European equities, Graham Clapp, has founded Pensato Capital and has launched its first long/short European equities fund. Clapp has hired Edward Rumble, formerly of Dawnay, Day Investment Banking, and David Watson, who was previously operations chief at Coller Capital. Clapp has a great following among European long-only investors.

Fixed-income specialist Aladdin Capital Holdings of Stamford, Connecticut has sold a 19.5 per cent stake to Mitsubishi Corporation, which becomes the firm’s second-largest shareholder. Mitsubishi has also committed USD300m in seed capital for investments managed by Aladdin, which had USD17.5bn assets under management at the end of March. Aladdin focuses heavily on collateralised debt obligations.

High-yield analyst Martin Fridson, who ran Distressed Debt Investor and Leverage World publications, will launch Fridson Investment Advisors with BNP Paribas to invest in junk debt. Thomas Shandell, co-founder of GoldenTree Asset Management, will be its chief portfolio manager while Richard Hollander, founder of Metropolitan West Financial, will be chairman. BNP Paribas Investment Partners will be a ‘global partner’ to the firm.

USD10.4bn fund of funds manager Morgan Creek Capital Management is looking to raise USD500m for a credit vehicle it launched last month. The Dislocation Fund currently manages USD36m and invests in both hedge funds and private equity. Mark Yusko, the former head of investment at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, established Morgan Creek in July 2004.

Geoff Grant, who founded now-defunct Peloton Partners with Ron Beller, Max Trautman and Bill Gillbert, will continue to operate the London firm’s satellite office in Santa Barbara, California, through this year with hopes of establishing his own company.

Ill-timed directional bets have taken the wind out of the sails of small Swiss boutique Hedge Vision Capital. The Altendorf outfit is winding down its USD15m Hedge Vision Japan Fund, which it launched in November 2006 and which pursued long/short directional and trading-oriented strategies in Japan.

After gaining 6.57 per cent in 2007, the fund’s US dollar class lost 14.13 per cent in January, prompting its largest investor to redeem and triggering similar moves from its remaining investors. The firm will now try to line up seed investors because it thinks that Japan could regain investor interest as early as the end of this year.

Toscafund has raised its stake in Aberdeen Asset Management to 16.1 per cent and has now become its biggest shareholder. Another hedge fund manager, Lansdowne Partners, is Aberdeen’s second largest shareholder with 10.5 per cent.

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