Hedge funds try to hook up with pension funds

January 24, 2012

by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Katya Wachtel

In investing, as in life,  it is critical to find the right partner.

On Tuesday in Boca Raton, big hedge funds including Tudor Investment Corp., Marathon Asset Management and York Capital, as well as smaller rivals like Voltan Capital Management and Titan Capital Group crowded into a large conference room for the hedge fund industry’s version of speed dating.

Seated at tiny round tables, the managers (who are in Florida for the GAIM USA investor conference) eagerly awaited visits from potential investors like state pension funds from Wisconsin and North Carolina, and fund of funds firms like Rock Creek Group.

Every few minutes a bell tolled telling the roughly 50 investors there to move on to the next date. The ratio was about two managers for every investor. Time was of the essence as managers rattled off their skills.

The conferences organizers had advice for participants: “Drink plenty of water, and have something to write with.”

GAIM USA, the first major event on the hedge fund conference calendar, follows one of the industry’s worst annual performances in its history. Despite losses of about 5 percent for the average hedge fund last year, pension funds and other big investors are still looking to put money in.

“It is part of the tool box,” North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell said about hedge funds as the state gears up to put $4 billion with so-called long-short equity managers.

It’s anyone’s guess whether any meaningful relationships were made.

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