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Hedgemedia’s AltInvestment Global News Round-Up: GLG hires from investment banks to fill Coffey’s shoes

Moving to replace its outgoing star emerging-markets manager Greg Coffey, GLG Partners has tapped seasoned proprietary trader Driss Ben-Brahim from

Moving to replace its outgoing star emerging-markets manager Greg Coffey, GLG Partners has tapped seasoned proprietary trader Driss Ben-Brahim from Goldman Sachs. At the USD24bn London-based firm, he will develop various initiatives including global macro, special situations and thematic funds and also oversee its existing USD1.2bn emerging markets special situations business.

Ben-Brahim is one of a number of new recruits who will fill the gap left by Greg Coffey, who announced in April he would quit GLG later this year to start his own business. Ben-Brahim spent 15 years at Goldman and as a partner headed various trading businesses, including proprietary global macro and options and derivatives trading desks. He ran Goldman’s emerging markets trading and principal investments businesses for the past two years.

GLG has also hired Bart Turtelboom and Karim Abdel-Motaal, who oversaw emerging markets in Morgan Stanley’s fixed-income division, as co-heads of GLG’s Emerging Markets Fund, Emerging Currency and Fixed Income Fund and Emerging Equity Fund. Turtelboom is reported to have left Morgan Stanley last month; he and Abdel-Motaal will take up their new posts in October.

Sandelman Partners has become the latest hedge fund manager to suspend investor redemptions. The USD4bn firm has told investors it is restructuring its largest fund, the USD3.2bn Sandelman Multi-Strategy Fund, which has fallen 5 per cent in the first six months of this year. The New York-based firm is headed by Jon Sandelman, who was previously a senior executive at Bank of America.

Frederic Jolly, Russell Investments’ chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa, has resigned and plans to set up his own private equity firm focused on the asset management industry. Jolly handed in his notice at the end of June but plans to be at New York-based Russell until September.

He plans to gather as much as USD5bn for his debut fund by early next year and will have a 20-member team in London. Jolly was made regional head in March 2000 and has been with Russell since 1995. Meanwhile, the firm has revamped its alternatives unit, combining its fund of hedge funds, real estate and private equity businesses within its traditional investments and research group. The move follows the departure of alternatives head Jon Baillie three weeks ago.

Fortis has sold International Asset Management to the fund of hedge funds firm’s management. IAM is a former unit of ABN Amro, which was acquired last year by a consortium of financial services groups including the Belgian-Dutch group Fortis. Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder of Apax Partners, and Jefferies Group supported IAM management in the transaction. The firm, which managed USD4.3bn in assets at the end of March, had been acquired by ABN Amro in 2006.

According to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research, the industry suffered its worst first-half performance since the data provider began keeping records in 1990. HFR says hedge funds on average lost 0.68 per cent in June, bringing their six-month decline to 0.75 per cent. However, the worst full year on record was 2002 when funds averaged a 1.45 per cent loss.

Against this backdrop, hedge fund launches have slowed down, too. According to trade magazine Absolute Return, 35 new funds have been launched in the US so far this year, compared with 72 in the first half of 2007. However, funds this year raised USD19.5bn, compared with USD14bn a year ago. Five funds accounted for 71 per cent of all the new capital, including new offerings from Conatus Capital Management and Highliner Investment Group.

Crédit Agricole Asset Management has amassed EUR140m for a new fund that will invest in shares of agriculture-related firms. The fund’s managers have opted to invest in companies that will benefit from the current commodities boom, instead of directly in crops such as wheat and soybeans, because of their lower volatility potential. The fund is targeting a universe of some 200 companies around the world.

New York’s Stillwater Capital Partners and Essex Fund of the Cayman Islands along with liquidators Geoffrey Varga and William Cleghorn have amended their legal complaint against Bear Stearns, two former managers of now-defunct hedge funds and auditor Deloitte & Touche.

The revised complaint, filed on June 30, seeks USD1.5bn in damages from the defendants for allegedly misleading investors about the health of two hedge funds that invested in sub-prime mortgages. The funds’ managers, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin, are among the defendants; they were indicted on fraud charges on June 19.

RBC Capital Markets has hired Jim Wolfe, a former Bear Stearns managing director and head of US leveraged finance. He will join RBC’s corporate and investment banking arm in New York and report to Blair Fleming, who heads global syndicated and leveraged finance. Wolfe, who will focus on deal origination and execution, spent 15 years at Bear until its distressed acquisition by JPMorgan Chase in March.

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