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Morning Brief: Winton Says $3 Trillion Hedge Fund Industry Does Not Exist

Winton Group is seeking to determine the true size of the hedge fund industry. Its preliminary findings reportedly show it may be smaller than generally estimated.

  • By Stephen Taub

How large is the hedge fund industry? How fast is it growing? Is it even growing? The folks at London quantitative giant Winton Group are determined to get to the bottom of these questions in an exhaustive, internal study. And so far, it looks like the hedge fund industry is smaller than the more than $3 trillion of assets typically reported. “Our preliminary findings show that a $3tn industry – one characterized by a 2 and 20 fee model, low transparency, which is lightly regulated, illiquid, employs high leverage and makes extensive use of shorting — does not exist,” Jonathan Levy, head of product research at Winton, who is heading up the study for the hedge fund firm, told Financial News. Winton is the world’s tenth largest hedge fund firm based on $32 billion of assets under management at the beginning of the year, according to data from Institutional Investor’s Alpha Hedge Fund 100 Ranking. Bridgewater Associates was the largest firm with about $122 billion of hedge funds assets at the start of January.

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Elliott Associates, BlueMountain Capital Management, and Avenue Capital Management II each called on Ocean Rig UDW, an operator of semi-submersible oil rigs and drillships that filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year, to hire advisers to review ways to maximize shareholder value. Elliott holds 20.4 percent of the company’s shares, BlueMountain owns 10.9 percent and Avenue has a 7.7 percent stake in Ocean Rig. The firms said in separate regulatory filings that they have held discussions with one another as well as with management or third parties. In the filings, the firms say they may propose possible strategic transactions. They also may propose ways to change operations, management, board composition, ownership, capital or corporate structure, dividend policy, strategy and potential strategic transactions. Ocean Rig announced a reorganization on September 22. Shares of Ocean Rig jumped 2.8 percent to close Monday at $26.92.

In a separate filing, Elliott said it owned 5.9 percent of VICI Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT) spun off from Caesars Entertainment Corp. on October 6. The disclosure was made on a form 13G, meaning the investment is passive. VICI’s portfolio consists of 19 gaming facilities, including the iconic Caesars Palace Las Vegas and a subsidiary that owns four golf courses. Separately, Soros Fund Management, the family office of George Soros, disclosed in a filing that it owned 6.1 percent of VICI.

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Senator Investment Group said in a 13G filing that it owned more than 44 million shares of Caesars Entertainment Corp., or a 6.18 percent stake. This includes nearly 16 million shares upon the conversion of notes. At the end of the second quarter, it owned just 2.5 million shares.

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Sandell Asset Management disclosed it owns 6.6 percent of Moneygram International’s shares. The activist’s filing was made with a form 13G, so the investment in money transfer company is passive, for now.

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