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A retail play for Baha
Rarely do sophisticated money managers cater to the man on the street, but that's just what Christian Baha, founder of Monaco-based managed-futures fund Quadriga Group, aims to do with a new, 7,000-square-foot shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Rarely do sophisticated money managers cater to the man on the street, but that's just what Christian Baha, founder of Monaco-based managed-futures fund Quadriga Group, aims to do with a new, 7,000-square-foot shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The Superfund Investment Center, as it is not-so-modestly named, opened last month with less fanfare than Baha had anticipated: Former U.S. president Bill Clinton had been scheduled to speak at the event but canceled because of follow-up surgery to a heart-bypass procedure last year. The Austrian-born Baha, a huge fan of the former president, was disappointed but pragmatic.
"He was the one person I most wanted to have speak," he says. "But it's more important that he gets well, so we just went ahead and opened very quietly."
Baha, 36, has never taken a low-key approach to marketing his funds. Last year the firm ran U.S. television ads in which Baha, wearing a black-leather overcoat à la actor Keanu Reeves in the futuristic film The Matrix, greeted potential investors in German and English. (He cleared the regulatory prohibition on marketing by not mentioning the phrase "hedge fund" in either language.) The spot aired for only six weeks, but the New York retail shop may have a longer life span: Quadriga already has four offices in Austria and recently opened one in Singapore as well.
Less certain is whether U.S. investors will buy into Quadriga's wild investing style. The funds' computer systems trade in 100 futures markets globally, and the portfolios have a hugely volatile 20 to 30 percent standard deviation. Then there are the fees: a fixed 1.85 percent of assets, plus miscellaneous charges that bring the effective management fee to more than 8 percent, as well as a 25 percent performance override -- considerably stiffer than hedge funds' traditional "1 and 20." With that fee structure, and $2 billion under management, Baha won't have problems leasing new space wherever he wants.