Balyasny Boosts Ranks of Money Managers 60% in Blockbuster Year

Two years after billions in client withdrawals led him to fire a fifth of his staff, Dmitry Balyasny is rebuilding his $9 billion hedge fund with a swath of hires and strong returns.

Balyasny Asset Management brought on a net 40 new money managers across North America, Asia and the U.K. over the last year, pushing the total to 107, according to a person familiar with the matter. It also hired 60 analysts in North America, 22 in the U.K. and 10 in Asia.

The Chicago-based firm’s flagship fund, Atlas Enhanced, gained 33% in 2020. That’s the best annual performance since 2007, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing private matters. The performance trounced hedge fund peers who on average gained 9.5% last year, according to Bloomberg indexes.

Balyasny joins firms including Izzy Englander’s Millennium Management and ExodusPoint Capital Management bolstering the number of teams that they rely on to manage capital. These so-called multi-manager platforms have been a bright spot in a $3 trillion industry where many firms have shrunk or closed. Millennium hired about 70 teams in 2020 on a gross basis, the most since the firm’s founding in 1989.

“There is an insatiable appetite for talent across all the top multi-managers,” said Ilana Weinstein, who recruits for several of these firms through her company IDW Group LLC. Platform funds offer “a way for top talent to run their own business without the headache of raising capital or the operational distractions that come with running your own fund.”

Of the money managers Balyasny added over the past year, 22 were in North America, 7 in Asia and 11 in the U.K. Many were macro traders and long-short equity managers, the person familiar said.

Yet Balyasny’s assets remain about $2 billion lower than where they were three years ago. In 2018 alone, the firm, lagging peers, lost $4 billion in assets and dismissed more than 125 employees.

Since then, Balyasny has taken steps to minimize risk and buttress its capital.

It has focused on targeting volatility in its investment process, and doubled the amount of trade ideas through better hiring, the firm told Institutional Investor last year. It has also helped secure its investor base by adding more institutional clients willing to lock up their money for longer periods. As part of that move, it returned $800 million to wealthy clients at Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG.

ExodusPoint, which at less than three years old has amassed $13.4 billion in assets, also continues to expand. The hedge fund, started by former Millennium executive Michael Gelband, hired a net 33 portfolio manager teams in 2020, bringing the total to 100 teams, a person familiar with the matter said. It has approximately three people on each team, and about 260 investment professionals. It gained 13.5% last year, the person said.

Representatives for the firms declined to comment.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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