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Money managers under the microscope

No tragic ending at Toscafund

May 14, 2009

Puccini’s tragic opera Tosca ends with the heroine, realising she has been tricked by the evil Baron Scarpia and that her lover has been executed, hurling herself to her death from a castle parapet in despair.

rtr20bsmHowever, despite last year’s tragic performance — an approximately 60 percent plunge in the flagship fund after holdings such as Redrow and Taylor Wimpey fell sharply — it would seem Martin Hughes has sidestepped such an unhappy ending at Toscafund, where redemptions have tailed off and fund performance is strong once again.

Today the activist hedge fund firm said it saw profits fall 83 percent last year, while the highest-paid member — likely to be owner Martin Hughes — saw pay drop to 14.9 million pounds from 75 million pounds.

However, fund performance is up this year. The flagship fund is up around 25 percent year-to-date, while the Opportunities fund is up about 60 percent, the small-cap fund 58 percent and the Asia fund just under 10 percent.

Meanwhile, it told Reuters there were now “no significant redemptions”, while some clients have even cancelled redemption requests. And despite the drop in profits, Toscafund felt generous enough to more than double its charity contributions to over half a million pounds.

Toscafund’s apparent revival is the latest sign that, after a wave of outflows, conditions are beginning to stabilise in the hedge fund industry.

Despite the welter of negative headlines over the past year and the numerous fund closures, tragic demises remain the stuff of opera rather than the fate of the hedge fund industry as a whole.

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