Blackstone-Backed Antara Soars 59% on Technology, Lithium Bets

Antara Capital, a $1.2 billion hedge fund backed by Blackstone Group Inc., soared 59% in its flagship fund last year as wagers including loans to technology companies paid off.

Returns for Antara, which was founded by former Man GLG distressed-credit head Himanshu Gulati, accelerated at the end of the year, according to a letter to investors seen by Bloomberg. The firm notched gains of about 17% and 12% in November and December, respectively. Distressed funds also made the bulk of their 11% gains for the year over those two months, according to Hedge Fund Research Inc.

The New York-based firm started trading in 2018 with the backing of Blackstone and Corbin Capital Partners, and focuses on trading around events or special situations, as well as in distressed credit. Its 2020 gains were led by a bet on lithium-ion battery company QuantumScape Corp., and a loan to Israeli startup Innoviz Technologies that helped the company go public in a $1.4 billion reverse-merger, the letter said.

A representative for the fund declined to comment.

Other seasoned distressed-debt investors have also been racking up big gains. Firms including Diameter Capital Partners, Apollo Global Management Inc. and Redwood Capital Management saw double-digit returns from the market’s pandemic-fueled volatility. They seized on opportunities from loans to troubled air carriers and cruise lines to bankruptcy financing for companies like Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

Distressed firms outpaced their peers last year in the hedge fund industry -- which on average eked out gains of about 3% on an asset-weighted basis -- and beat a benchmark for the riskiest corporate bonds that returned about 2%. The S&P 500 gained 16%.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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