Trader Gougenheim eyes $50 mln Glasnost hedge fund

Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:10am EST

Related Topics

* Says can guard against politicians' influence on markets

* Aims to be "everything that hedge funds are not"

* Will be joined by fund manager, COO, salesperson

By Laurence Fletcher

LONDON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Hedge fund industry veteran Philippe Gougenheim wants to raise $50 million-plus for a highly liquid global macro hedge fund he says can guard against the unpredictable influence of euro zone politicians on markets.

Gougenheim, who was head of hedge funds at Swiss fund firm Unigestion, will launch the Cayman-domiciled Glasnost fund in June, named after the former USSR's 1980s policy of openness and transparency.

The fund will offer investors weekly access to their cash with three days' notice, making it far more liquid than most hedge funds, and it will also disclose all its positions to investors every month.

"My idea is to be everything that hedge funds are not: liquid, transparent, with a focus on capital protection," said Gougenheim, who previously chaired the investment committee at Man Investments, part of Man Group, the world's largest listed hedge fund firm.

The fund will trade futures and options on stock indexes, commodities, interest rates and currencies and will aim for a 10-12 percent return per year with volatility of around 7 percent and a maximum peak-to-trough loss over a 12-month period of 2 percent.

"I hate losing money and am always very quick in taking my losses," said Gougenheim, who formerly headed a proprietary trading team at Societe Generale and an interest rate derivative team at JPMorgan. "My culture, my DNA, is really in capital protection."

Gougenheim said he could guard his portfolio against the unpredictable manoeuvring of politicians -- cited by hedge fund managers as one of the biggest influences on markets and one of the key dangers to investors as Europe's debt crisis rages.

"Political influence in markets can be mitigated by sound risk management, which is difficult for many funds as their positions are not liquid enough for them to get out," he said.

"If there is a big meeting (of European leaders), I can liquidate all the positions just before the meeting."

Market turbulence, he said, offered plenty of opportunities to make money.

"I suspect we'll have an environment similar to what we've had last year. I think I'll add a lot of value by being very reactive in terms of risk management," he said.

"In this type of environment there will be lots of opportunities with big macro trends over the medium to long term and a lot of short-term events."

Gougenheim said his investment process would be based on a computer model he is developing, his own economic analysis and analysis of market behaviour in order to avoid crowded trades.

His Switzerland-based firm, Gougenheim Investments, will employ a portfolio manager, a chief operating officer and someone in marketing, though they are currently still working at other firms ahead of bonus season, he said.

He added that he planned to launch a Luxembourg-based fund, to be run in parallel with his Cayman fund, over the next 12 months to target European institutions.

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