Blackstone-backed Asia fund Senrigan's partner leaves for own firm-sources

Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:37pm EST

* Kevin Kwong starting family office Aria Group - source

* Senrigan has made big investment losses in last 2 years

By Nishant Kumar

HONG KONG, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Kevin Kwong, a partner at Senrigan Capital, has left the Hong Kong-based hedge fund this month to start his own investment firm, sources with knowledge of the matter said, joining a growing number of spinouts from established companies this year.

Kwong was part of the core investment team at Senrigan, an Asia-focused event-driven hedge fund that started in 2009 with seed capital from U.S. alternative asset manager Blackstone Group. Senrigan, however, has racked up big investment losses over the past two years.

The executive's departure comes at a tough time for the Asian hedge fund industry which has seen investors pull out a net $1.35 billion through October this year, according to data from industry tracker Eurekahedge.

However, some Asian spinouts from global hedge funds such has Lone Pine and Perry Capital have collected hundreds of millions of dollars as investors still continue to back fund managers with a proven track record.

Kwong, who worked with Senrigan boss and one of Asia's best-known hedge fund managers Nick Taylor for the last eight years, is setting up The Aria Group, a family office that will run multiple investment strategies, one of the sources said.

Kwong declined to comment. Senrigan spokeswoman Katarina Bendle declined to comment.

Aria will invest globally and trade fixed income and stocks and also invest in real estate, private equity and other alternative products.

The Hong Kong native will start by managing his own money and funds from friends and family next year and open one of the strategies to external investors later, one of the sources said. The start-up capital for Aria could not be determined immediately.

The move by the Yale University alumnus, who earlier also worked with British-born Taylor at hedge funds Citadel and Modal Capital Partners, is a departure from his industry peers who have started hedge funds rather than a family office.

Senrigan started with $150 million in 2009 and quickly grew to manage just over $1 billion last year, becoming one of the few hedge funds of that size in Asia.

Assets have more than halved since then following an 8.6 percent loss last year and a 15 percent fall through September this year.