New York (HedgeCo.Net) – Hedge fund assets, which were once estimated to reach almost $3 trillion, finished the year at around $1.8 trillion, according to research conducted by London-based HedgeFund Intelligence.
The report contends the fall in assets happened almost entirely in the second half of 2008, as markets took a beating and many hedge funds were forced to close shop. In addition, hedge fund firms that manage $1 billion or more fell from 395 in mid-2008 to 311 at year’s end. Also contributing to the fall was the fact that new fund launches didn’t come close to filling the void left by failed funds. While just 55 new funds were launched last year in the United States with assets of $50 million or more, 200 hedge funds were shut down or liquidated.
Hedge funds as a whole posted their worst year to date in 2008, with the average fund losing about 19 percent, according to data compiled by Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research. The firm also reported hedge funds are already experiencing a better year, with the average fund gaining 0.39 percent in January and falling a mere 0.51 in February, though still outperforming the stock market.
HedgeFund Intelligence predicts that assets may drop another 20 percent or more in the coming months, before leveling off sometime during this year.
According to their data, Bridgewater Associates is the largest hedge fund based on assets under management, with $38.6 billion. Coming in second, JP Morgan manages $32.9 billion, while John Paulson’s Paulson & Co. slid into third place with $29 billion in assets under management.
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