John Thaler, who shut down his long-short equity hedge fund in 2015, is making a return to the hedge fund scene with an offering focused on telecommunications, media, and technology and backed by asset manager Wexford Capital.
Thaler — who has ties to Julian Robertson Jr.’s Tiger Management because he previously worked at Tiger analyst Chris Shumway’s Shumway Capital — shut down JAT Capital in 2015 after eight years in business. Thaler returned to fund management in January of this year, joining Wexford as a portfolio manager of the Wexford Core Equities Fund.
Now, the portfolio manager is spinning out the fund, to be renamed Hampton Road Capital Management, with Wexford as an anchor investor. In its seven months of existence, the Wexford Core Equities Fund returned 18 percent gross through July 31, 2020.
“Recognizing John’s deep experience in the TMT sector, the strong return profile he generated with low net exposure, and the potential for future returns, we mutually agreed with John to spin out the Wexford Core Equities Fund into a separate, independent fund,” the firm said in a letter to investors obtained by Institutional Investor. “This is the first time we have spun out and invested in an existing portfolio management team, and we couldn’t be more excited about the prospects of what John and his team will achieve.”
Thaler launched Greenwich, Connecticut-based JAT in 2007, specializing on the kinds of tech and media stocks popular with Tiger alumni. He produced feast-or-famine returns at JAT, putting up double-digit gains in every one of his profitable years. However, it also mounted double-digit losses 11.3 percent in 2014 and 19.6 percent in 2012.
Thaler’s fund had gained 6.3 percent in the first half of 2015, when he returned capital to investors. JAT Capital managed $1.7 billion in assets at the time.
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According to the letter, Wexford Core Equities investment team members Sheetal Duggal and David Rentschler will join Hampton Road as well. In addition, Ken Palumbo, who joined Wexford in 2019 and oversaw the firm’s efforts to improve its back office operations, will join Hampton Road as chief operating officer. The external launch of the fund is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2021, said the letter.