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Global hedge fund assets rose to $2.059tln in 2011

Monday, April 16, 2012
Opalesque Industry Update - Assets in global hedge funds edged up slightly during 2011, despite the strong headwinds in global markets and the negative performance delivered on average from funds in the industry last year, according to the latest research from HedgeFund Intelligence.

Assets in hedge funds of traditional types, which are mostly domiciled offshore or structured as limited partnerships in the US, reached $2.059 trillion (including parallel onshore versions) at the end of 2011, according to the latest research. That was a slight increase from $2.022 trillion at the end of 2010, though down a little from $2.158 trillion at the mid-point of 2011.

If other hedge funds and absolute return funds in standalone European UCITS onshore structures (with no parallel offshore versions) are added, the latest total rises to $2.156 trillion – up from $2.099 trillion a year before, but also down from mid-2011 when assets including UCITS had reached $2.256 trillion.

These asset numbers indicate that the industry was continuing to receive positive net inflows from investors despite the negative impact on aggregate assets caused by performance losses.

The median performance of hedge funds globally was -2.01% in 2011, according the HedgeFund Intelligence Composite – but, as in the last negative year of 2008, the median again obscured a significant negative skew in the distribution of returns, with the mean average of the Composite weighing in quite a lot worse at -4.44%. For overall assets to be slightly up again after such a difficult year provides powerful testimony of the continuing faith of investors in hedge funds to deliver strong risk-adjusted returns over the cycle – at least thus far.

The latest figures are encouraging, but still leave the industry a long way from the peak level of assets which briefly spiked to $2.65 trillion in 2007 during the period just before the global financial crisis. After a dramatic fall during 2008 to just over $1.83 trillion, assets have been edging up slightly every year since.

The big keep getting bigger
Meanwhile, the biggest players in the global hedge fund industry are continuing to get bigger, accounting for a rising proportion of total assets, according to the latest statistics on the Global Billion Dollar Club – the elite group of firms that manage $1 billion or more in hedge fund assets.

Collectively, the 340 current members of the Global Billion Dollar Club now manage assets of just over $1.76 trillion, up again from around $1.7 trillion a year before, and now representing over 86% of the industry’s total assets – up from 84% last year and 82% the year before.

The lion’s share of this increase is also concentrated in the ‘super-league’ of biggest firms that manage $5 billion or more. The number of firms in that category has edged up from 93 to 99 in the past year, and collectively they account for nearly $1.23 trillion – up from $1.15 trillion a year before, now getting close to 60% of the industry’s total assets.

The US market remains very much the top location for the world’s biggest hedge fund firms. There are currently 230 firms that manage hedge fund assets of $1 billion or more from the US. And New York is still the biggest single centre of the industry, being home to no fewer than 139 of those firms, up from 128 a year before – though the proportion of assets they account for slipped from 44.96% to 42.61%.

London remains in second place overall, and though its number of Club members is down from 63 to 57, the share of assets of those firms is slightly up, at 14.55% from 14.49%. While firms based in Asia remain a relatively small portion of assets in the industry overall, the number of local firms in the region reaching the Billion Dollar Club continue to rise steadily. The number in Hong Kong was up from 11 to 13 during the year and the number in Singapore was up from seven to eight.

The total number of firms on the list now comes to 340 – a figure that de-duplicates for a number of big groups such as BlackRock, Och-Ziff and Brevan Howard that run $1 billion-plus funds from related companies in more than one location. This is up a little from last year, when there were 330 firms on the list...Corporate website:Source

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