The Billion-Dollar Question: Trader’s Changing Returns Puzzle Investors

(Bloomberg) -- How much money did star hedge fund manager Greg Coffey make before going solo?

Well, it depends. According to an October presentation sent to investors for his new fund the figure stands at more than $3 billion; another, earlier pitch dated April put the amount in excess of $2 billion. The difference? Whether Coffey excludes five months of losses during the 2008 financial crisis as he was exiting GLG Partners for Moore Capital Management.

The Billion-Dollar Question: Trader’s Changing Returns Puzzle Investors

The contrasting pictures have surprised at least five potential investors, giving them reason for concern as Coffey’s Kirkoswald Capital Partners seeks to raise money for its new hedge fund, according to the investors, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak about individual managers. Historical returns and performance versus peers are crucial for investors in hedge funds, which make decisions to allocate millions to single managers helped by such marketing pitches.

Coffey has told prospective investors that he now manages about $500 million and expects to double assets under management by the end of this year, according to one person. The firm said in its most recent presentation that it has capacity to manage up to $2 billion in assets.

Coffey is outperforming peers at his new gig. The Kirkoswald Global Macro Fund was up 6.2 percent in the first six months of trading when his peers lost money on average.

Read more on how Coffey and others dodged a brutal August

The fund manager is raising capital as macro money pools are seeing a surge of interest. Investors poured a net $15 billion into the strategy in the first eight months of 2018, the highest in any hedge-fund type, according to eVestment data.

A spokesman for Kirkoswald said neither Coffey nor the firm can comment on fund performance. A GLG spokeswoman declined to comment.

Differing Records

In the latest brief, sent to prospective investors in October, Kirkoswald notes that Coffey resigned from GLG in April 2008, and returns for the GLG Emerging Markets Fund after his resignation date haven’t been included. The presentation sent in April includes the fund’s track record through October 2008, the last month that he was responsible for the fund. GLG told investors around the time of Coffey’s resignation in April 2008 that he would be responsible for the pool until October of that year.

‘Impressive’ Trader

Annualized returns rise to 31 percent in the latest marketing document, up from “more than 20 percent" in the older pitch. Both briefs were seen by Bloomberg News. It is not clear when exactly the change was made; the documents show which months are included in its 2008 returns.

Jan 2008FebMarAprMayJun JulAugSepOctYTD
Old Pitch0.342.28-7.73-13.975.120.87-5.46-7.46-7.52-13.7-39.69
New Pitch0.342.28-7.73-0.4-------------5.68

Coffey made a name for himself managing money for GLG and Moore Capital Management and rose to fame following a run of gains that made the 47-year-old Australian one of the world’s best-paid hedge-fund managers.

When at GLG, he was a top performer at one point, managing $7 billion and winning industry awards after his main fund climbed 60 percent in 2006 and 51 percent in 2007 amid a rally in emerging markets. When he left to join Moore in 2008, billionaire Louis Bacon called him “one of the most impressive traders in the world”.

Coffey hit a rough patch in 2008, when the GLG Emerging Markets Fund plunged 40 percent in the months through October, according to documents sent by his fund as recently as May this year. Those losses, most of which came after April 2008, are missing from the latest presentation. Macro hedge fund peers gained 0.5 percent during the first ten months of 2008, according to Eurekahedge.

GLG was subsequently forced to create a segregated fund to hold some of those assets, and the firm initially had to bar redemptions. Clients were left with hard-to-sell assets, including a stake in Siberian coal mining company Sibanthracite Plc.

Coffey left the hedge-fund industry in 2012 after losing money for clients during the previous two years and as assets in his fund declined. He came out of retirement earlier this year to start his own hedge fund.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.