Hedge Fund Clients Yank $22.5 Billion, the Most in Two Years

(Bloomberg) -- Investors fled hedge funds as markets plunged in the fourth quarter, pulling $22.5 billion, the most in more than two years.

The exodus added to the total withdrawals of $34 billion in 2018, or about 1 percent of industry assets, according to a report Friday from Hedge Fund Research. That’s the most since 2016 when investors yanked about $70 billion.

The spike in redemptions came as the industry had its worst performance since 2011 in a year marked by wide stock swings. Several big names exited the industry last year, including T. Boone Pickens, Leon Cooperman and Philippe Jabre, while others struggled to navigate the ever-changing markets.

Equity hedge funds suffered the most outflows, with investors pulling $16.8 billion in the quarter and a total of about $23 billion for the year, according to HFR. Managers who make both long and short equity bets fell 5.9 percent on an asset-weighted basis in 2018 -- the worst performers among the strategies tracked by HFR.

Even the year’s top performing macro managers, up 1.6 percent, ended 2018 with outflows of $12.3 billion.

“Outflows also included several large fund closures,” HFR President Kenneth Heinz said in the report, including instances of family office conversions and orderly, manager-initiated returns of investor capital.

Event-driven funds brought in $6.4 billion in the quarter -- the only strategy to see inflows -- and $6.9 billion for the year.

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