Hedge fund firm Odey bets on Man Group recovery

LONDON Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:32pm EDT

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LONDON Oct 25 (Reuters) - Odey Asset Management has sharply increased its stake in Man Group Plc, taking a bold bet on a fightback by the struggling computer hedge fund firm.

Odey, founded by veteran fund manager Crispin Odey and which is known for its lucrative bet in 2009 on a recovery in Barclays shares, has increased its stake in Man to 5.15 percent, worth some 70 million pounds ($113 million).

According to Thomson Reuters data, Odey, which holds its stake via a mixture of shares and contracts for difference, previously owned 1.25 percent.

The purchase, announced on Thursday, comes after a terrible two years for the former FTSE 100 company, which has seen clients exit after poor returns from its flagship computer fund AHL.

Since the start of last year the shares have tumbled by nearly three-quarters.

In an effort to reverse its fortunes, the company has made a raft of changes - slashing costs, launching new funds and naming Jonathan Sorrell, son of WPP CEO Martin Sorrell as finance director.

However, there have been few signs of success so far. Last week Man said it had shed client funds for a fifth straight quarter.

At 1513 GMT Man's shares were up 4 percent at 80.1 pence.

No-one at Odey was immediately available for comment.

Man has struggled because of its dependence on its misfiring $16.3 billion "black box" fund AHL, which accounts for 70 percent or more of Man's earnings, according to brokerage Numis.

This year the fund is down 3.9 percent, having lost 6.4 percent in 2011.

Last week brokerage Numis said the stock was "uninvestable" and estimated its liquidation value at between 50 and 75 pence.

Man has also come in for criticism for its controversial $1.6 billion purchase of fund firm GLG in 2010, which many analysts view as too expensive.

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