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The Morning Brief: David Harding’s Winton Capital Plots Big Expansion

Winton Capital, the ninth largest hedge fund firm in the world, is embarking on a major expansion. The London-based managed futures giant, which had more than $25 billion at the beginning of 2013, is looking to hire as many as 100 employees this year alone, launch five funds and open offices in New York, Tokyo and Sydney, according to the Wall Street Journal. Winton founder David Harding is said to be playing a more active role at the firm now that chief executive Tony Fenner-Leitão resigned.

Last month Winton moved into new offices in West London, according to the report. “To grow, you need to have several things in place: office space, management know-how, money and the will — we now have all those things in place,” Harding told the paper.

Last year Winton posted a 9.42 percent gain in its $10 billion flagship Winton Futures Fund, an impressive performance considering a number of managed futures funds and trend followers lost money, in some cases by double-digits. Winton’s high-flying, $650 million Winton Global Equity Fund, a long-only equity strategy, finished the year up 29.77 percent. Winton’s $220 million Winton Evolution Fund, which the firm describes as a supercharged version of WFF, rose 14.56 percent last year. The fund had 40 percent of its risk in cash equities, versus 25 percent for the Winton Futures Fund, and targets 12 percent volatility, versus 10 percent for WFF. The firm also manages the Winton Diversified Futures Fund, an onshore U.S. fund that was launched in July 2012. It finished the year up 6.64 percent and had $300 million under management at year-end. The Winton Diversified Strategies Fund, which follows the same strategy and leverage levels as the Winton Evolution Fund, was up 5.87 percent it its first, partial year of trading. It launched in July 2013 and now manages $90 million.

One major reason Winton fared so well in 2013 is that it had a big exposure to the strong global equities market. It did well in both index and individual cash equities.

Cantor Fitzgerald Asset Management announced it acquired Fintan Partners, a fixed income absolute return fund of funds led by founder Alexander Klikoff. Fintan boosts Cantor’s assets under management and advisement to $3 billion. Cantor’s asset management clients include institutional investors and high net worth clients globally. Prior to founding Fintan, Klikoff managed Stanford University’s endowment portfolio that was allocated to hedge funds.

Now this is what you call finding a bargain in a super sale. Shares of J.C. Penney surged another 9.34 percent, to close at $7.96. The stock is now up 50 percent in just the five trading days since it reported its most recent quarterly results. The stock, once held by a handful of hedge fund firms, lost its biggest booster when Pershing Square Capital Management’s William Ackman unloaded his entire stake in the ailing retailer last August.

Activist favorite Sotheby’s fell only about half of a percentage point Monday after plummeting 6.67 percent on Friday. That’s when the auctioneer admitted it took possession of a 59.60-carat pink diamond after the buyer couldn’t pay the $83 million it had pledged.

BNY Mellon named Frank La Salla chief executive officer of its Alternative Investment Services business. He was most recently managing director at Pershing, a BNY Mellon company, where he was responsible for all of Pershing’s business outside of the U.S. He reports to Samir Pandiri, BNY Mellon executive vice president and CEO of asset servicing, who held LaSalla’s new position for the past two years.

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