After leaving Kenya for London in the 1970s, Vikram
Kumars father opened a commodities trading business,
driven by an entrepreneurial spirit that hed pass on to
his son. In 2013, Kumar, a portfolio manager at TT
International, sold the London-based hedge fund firm on his
idea for a new investment strategy that aims to take advantage
of inefficiencies in the market for European midsize companies.
The $500 million TT Long/Short Focus Fund returned 26.8 percent
last year, while most hedge funds took a wallop.
Kumar, 35, assembled a team of four professionals he knew
and respected from outside $6.4 billion TT. Together they use
their stock-picking expertise in consumer products, industrials
and technology, media and telecommunications to capitalize on
short-termism in and poor coverage of European midcaps.
Kumars crew likes to make longer-term bets than many
funds; although its investments lost 2.7 percent in 2014, they
came back with a vengeance last year, putting Long/Short Focus
up nearly 35 percent since inception.
The funds largest holding is Dutch GPS and navigation
software maker TomTom, a choice motivated by the importance of
navigation systems for the
driverless cars of the future. Long/Short Focus dropped 2.9
percent in the first quarter of 2016 a loss that Kumar
attributes to profit taking on its best-performing long bets
but its core short portfolio has gained 11 percent since
inception, versus an 18 percent rise in the benchmark
STOXX 600 Europe Index.
Kumar began his career at UBS in 2003 after graduating from
the University of Cambridge, where he studied history and
management and played cricket. By late 2007, with the global
financial crisis in full bloom, he was director of the European
midcap equity sales team for the Swiss bank, but he wanted to
try his hand at money management rather than dole out advice in
a bear market. So Kumar left to join client TT at the beginning
of 2008; as co-manager of the firms $800 million TT
Mid-Cap Europe Long/Short Fund, he first demonstrated his star
qualities by guiding the fund to a 15.5 percent gain that
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