UPDATE 1-SAC Capital grows in Asia with Singapore office
* SAC sets up new shop in Singapore
* Hired back Ex-Blackstone Aaron Nieman earlier in '09
* Asia hedge funds have returned 31.1 pct through October
(Adds details and background)
By Parvathy Ullatil and Svea Herbst-Bayliss
HONG KONG/NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - S.A.C. Capital Advisors, one of the world's biggest and most successful hedge fund firms, is expanding its Asian operations by opening a new office in Singapore amid strong industry investment returns across the region.
Two portfolio managers will be working in the Singapore office, according to a source close to the matter. In total, SAC employs 79 discretionary long/short equity portfolio teams, 10 of which concentrate on Asia/Emerging Markets.
Founded by Steven A. Cohen in 1992 with 9 employees and $25 million in assets under management, the fund now manages roughly $12.9 billion. It's headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, with offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Hong Kong, and now Singpaore.
S.A.C. declined to comment.
Earlier this year, S.A.C. hired back Aaron Nieman who had left the fund for Blackstone Group (BX.N) in 2008. Nieman was previously a managing director at S.A.C. in the Canvas Capital Management division overseeing investments in Asia-Pacific.
With its economies leading the global economic turnaround this year, Asia (excluding Japan) has seen a flurry of new hedge fund launches in the second half, raising the year total to an expected 60 by the end of the year. This follows a round of reductions and pullbacks within the last year in the region by top managers including Citadel, Och-Ziff and The Children's Investment Fund (TCI).
Hedge fund managers across Asia have achieved average gains of 31.1 percent through October, according to data from Eurekahedge, which also showed that total assets under management in the region had swelled to $102 billion.
Investors who had previously focused solely on developed markets have been diversifying their portfolios with exposure to Asia.
Lower taxes and smaller start-up costs are also drawing in fund mangers who can start up boutique outfits with relatively small capital of $50 million-$100 million.
In October, two senior Asia managers at Stark Investments quit the hedge fund, taking the firm's Hong Kong and Singapore operations with them, to launch Orchard Capital Partners
Davide Erro, a former manager of the Hong Kong and London-based Gandhara hedge fund, plans to launch Turiya Capital Management next year from his Hong Kong base, according to industry sources.
(Editing by Michael Flaherty, Jonathan Hopfner and Ken Wills)
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