Computer hedge fund firm Henri Capital shuts down

LONDON, March 28 Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:39am EDT

LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - A hedge fund spinout from Winton Capital, one of the world's biggest hedge fund managers, is shutting down after less than two years of trading, as even the brightest start-ups find it tough attracting clients.

London-based Henri Capital, named after French mathematician Henri Poincare, was set up by Joey Huang and Filip Wuytack to manage Winton Octo, an equity long-short portfolio the pair had been running in their capacity as senior researchers at Winton.

While hundreds of hedge funds shut down every year, Henri's closure represents the failure of a portfolio spun off from one of the world's biggest and most successful fund firms.

Wuytack told Reuters the firm - whose offices were just behind Kensington Palace Gardens, the upmarket London street nicknamed "Billionaires' Row" - had failed to raise money from investors.

A number of firms have spun out from computer hedge funds in recent years, as researchers use their programming skills to try and replicate some of the success that has, for example, led to Winton founder David Harding becoming one of Britain's wealthiest financiers.

The fund was around $100 million in size when it span out from Winton, which continued to provide support to Henri until the end of 2011. Wuytack said assets were being returned to clients but declined to give a more recent size for the fund.

"(Our departure from Winton) was absolutely very amicable," said Wuytack. "We're still very grateful we were given the opportunity by David (Harding)." He declined to give further details of support given by Winton.

Winton declined to comment.

The closure comes as many start-ups struggle to raise funds from nervous clients and establish themselves in a $2.3 billion industry dominated by multi-billion dollar fund houses such as Winton, BlueCrest and Brevan Howard.

Last year 873 hedge funds folded, according to Hedge Fund Research, while 1,108 were launched. However, many closures go unreported due to the notoriously secretive nature of the sector.

High-profile closures announced last year included Diamondback Capital and Edoma Partners.

Wuytack - still listed as an Henri employee on the FSA register, but who has recently joined a computer hedge fund firm called John Street Capital set up by ex-Goldman Sachs bankers Johannes Hoff and Robert Pettit - said Henri's early performance had been "relatively ok".

"There have been periods of double-digit losses in the past, but not when it (the fund) was managed by Henri," said Wuytack.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Find your dream retirement town

Florida? Hawaii? Reuters has teamed up with Zillow to give you the power to customize a list of your best places to retire.  Video | Full Article