Another Hedge Fund Shuts Down: SAB Capital Returns All Outside Money

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 - 8:28

Two days, ago we noted that hedge funds are now dropping like flies in a year in which generating alpha has become virtually impossible for the majority of the vastly overpaid 2 and 20 "smart money" out there (and where levered beta is no longer the "sure thing" it used to be when the Fed was pumping trillions into stocks) when we reported that Seneca Capital, the $500 million multi-strat hedge fund belonging to Doug Hirsh (of Sohn Investment Conference fame), is shutting down.

Then, in keeping with what has become a daily tradition, we asked a simple question: who's next:

It turns out that despite our intention, the question was not rhetorical because just a few hours later Bloomberg answered when it reported that the latest hedge fund shutdown casualty was another iconic, long-term investor: Scott Bommer's SAB Capital, which as of a year ago managed $1.1 billion, and which after 17 years of managing money and after dropping roughly 11% in the first eight month of 2015, has decided to return all outside client money, and converting the hedge fund into a family office (after all one has to preserve one's offshore tax benefits).

According to Bloomberg, SAB Capital will return most money before mid January, Bommer said in an investor letter Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. The firm posted a 10.6 percent loss in the first eight months of the year in its SAB Overseas Fund, according to an investor document. Bommer started New York-based SAB Capital in 1998, and oversaw $1.1 billion as of the end of last year, according to a government filing.

“Over that time I’ve often thought this was one of the best professional opportunities one could imagine,” Bommer, who is a regular on the New York and Hamptons social scene with his wife Donya, said in the Dec. 29 letter. He didn’t give a reason for his decision.

As a reminder, Bommer is at least the third hedge-fund manager to announce plans this month to give back money to clients and focus on investing his own wealth after the previously noted Doug Hirsch said he’s returning money to investors of his Seneca Capital Investments after almost 20 years, a few months prior billionaire Michael Platt also said he was ending his 15-year career of managing client money, saying earlier this month that he wants to focus on trading his own capital and that of employees at his BlueCrest Capital Management. Joining them are Fortress Investment Group LLC, BlackRock Inc. and LionEye Capital Management among the firms who have shuttered hedge funds.

Bloomberg adds that SAB Capital’s move adds to a roster of hedge funds, both large and small, that have shuttered this year as managers struggled to navigate markets roiled by the Swiss franc’s unexpected surge, the devaluation of the Chinese yuan and declines in oil prices. According to data from Hedge Fund Research Inc., 674 hedge funds liquidated in the first nine months of the year, compared with 661 in the same period during 2014.

Hedge funds on average have returned 0.4 percent this year through November, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Long-short equity hedge funds have gained 2 percent.

Patrick Clifford, a spokesman for SAB Capital at Abernathy MacGregor, declined to comment on the changes.