Ex-banker Halestrap joins BlueCrest in hedge fund return

LONDON, March 20 Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:11pm EDT

LONDON, March 20 (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager Luke Halestrap has joined BlueCrest Capital, one of Europe's biggest hedge fund firms, marking a return to the industry for the former bank executive and reflecting an exodus from banking into the buoyant hedge fund sector.

Halestrap, who co-founded London-based hedge fund firm Northbay Investment Management in 2002 but later saw the firm shut down, had been working as head of EMEA rates at Bank of America Merrill Lynch before leaving last year.

He joined BlueCrest in January as a portfolio manager on the BlueCrest Capital International fund, a spokesman said. The $10.8 billion global macro fund is run by BlueCrest founder Mike Platt.

Halestrap's arrival at BlueCrest reflects an exodus from the banking industry - one of the main casualties of the financial crisis and now under pressure from regulators to cut some risky activities - and into the $2 trillion hedge fund industry, which continues to attract client money helped by strong returns this year.

Traders such as Todd Edgar and Sutesh Sharma are launching their own hedge fund firms as banks move out of activities restricted by the U.S. Volcker rule. Banks have also been cutting back staff as they battle falling revenues.

BlueCrest was set up by Mike Platt and William Reeves in 2000 and now runs around $29.4 billion in assets. The firm is headquartered in Guernsey, while the bulk of its traders sit in London and Geneva.

Meanwhile, BlueCrest BlueTrend, a new listed fund being launched by BlueCrest, said on Tuesday it had raised 165 million pounds ($262 million).

BlueCrest had been looking to raise more than 150 million pounds for the fund, a feeder into the firm's computer-driven BlueTrend fund, a source told Reuters in January.