The 25 Most Intriguing Hedge Funds | FT Alphaville

The 25 Most Intriguing Hedge Funds

The hedge fund world isn’t famous for its transparency, but some funds are more mysterious than others. Hedge Fund Reader lists the 25 names that out-intrigue, out-conspire and out-enigma the rest. Eye-catching entries (with their rankings and descriptions by Hedge Fund Reader) include:

1. SAC Capital Partners: “Secrecy may be Steve Cohen’s middle name but that didn’t stop his hedge fund from being embroiled in controversy over the Fairfax Financial Holdings affair…The “new prince of Wall Street” and the “hedge fund king” are sobriquets that lie lightly on Cohen’s shoulders — all he’s interested in is ruling his kingdom with an iron (secretive) fist.”

2. Goldman Sachs Asset Management: “It projects a conflicting image – Alpha Magazine ranks Goldman Sachs as the world’s largest hedge fund with assets totalling $720bn, but the firm’s Manhattan headquarters does not even sport a sign to advertise its presence. The company is loaded with talent and money, but the secrecy is so high that one employee often does not know what his colleague is making.”

5. Caxton Associates: “The world’s tenth largest with assets worth $12.5bn, this hedge fund is known more for its enigmatic founder, Bruce Kovner. From driving a cab to pay rent during his days at Harvard to naming his fund after an obscure 15th century book printer — the range of Kovner’s eccentricities is wide.”

9. ESL Investments: “Its founder Edward Lampert is an eccentric chap; formerly of Goldman Sachs, he was the first hedge fund manager to earn more than $1bn in a year, but then, this is also the same guy who drove around in an old car and lived in a rented apartment till he bought a $20m mansion in 1999. The reclusive billionaire was thrust rudely into the spotlight when he was kidnapped and held for ransom; unfortunately for his kidnappers, he was rescued in 24 hours when one of them used his credit card to order pizza.”

12. D.E.Shaw & Co.: “Fortune Magazine called it “the most intriguing and mysterious force on Wall Street” in 1996. D.E. Shaw, founded by an erstwhile computer science professor at the Columbia University, is chock full of Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright scholars and Putnam winners who are extremely skilled in problem solving and quantitative trading.’s founder, Jeff Bezos, was an employee at the fund before he left to make his own millions. And if you think you have a reasonable chance of getting your foot in the door, well, rumor has it that not even one in 500 applicants pass the eligibility criteria. The $24bn fund recently made headlines when it hired Lawrence Summers, former Treasury Secretary with the Clinton administration and ex-president of Harvard University as its managing director.”

15. Vega Asset Management: “What’s going on at Vega Asset Management? The fund, which was ranked by Alpha Magazine as Europe’s biggest hedge fund manager in 2005, is now facing a crisis. With assets down to $6 billion from $12bn just a couple of years ago, and investors seeking quick redemptions, questions are being raised if the fund will go the way of Amaranth.”

17. Geronimo Financial: “A relatively small and new start-up that makes the cut because of its unusual attitude to hedge fund investing. Geronimo Multi-Strategy, which diversified into mutual funds, “sets a new standard for advancing the concept of democratizing hedge fund investments.” It has the ridiculously low investment limit of $1,000, with no need for net accreditation and a performance-based fee structure. Geronimo could well go ahead and create a new benchmark for publicly-traded alternative investments.”