* Funds benefit from banks rally after ECB loans
* Crispin Odey's hedge fund up 14 pct this year
* Lansdowne, GLG, CQS among other gainers
* Average hedge fund up 1.72 pct in Jan - HFRX
By Laurence Fletcher
LONDON, Feb 3 Star European hedge fund
managers including Crispin Odey and Pierre Lagrange were among
the top performers in an upbeat January for the industry, as the
European Central Bank's cash boost for battered banks fuelled a
stock market rally.
Shrugging off a disappointing 2011, in which the average
hedge fund lost around 5 percent according to HFRI, managers
profited from gains in most assets as investors bet a solution
could be found for the euro zone's deepening debt crisis.
"All markets were up in January, it was just a very good
month all the way around," said Lisa Corvese, managing director
for global business strategy at hedge fund software group
PerTrac, which looks closely at hedge fund performance.
"It doesn't matter what market you were in, you're up right
now. It's a rising tide."
The average hedge fund gained 1.72 percent in January,
according to Hedge Fund Research's HFRX index, which measures
global hedge fund performance, with equity funds among the best
performers, gaining 2.07 percent.
In comparison, the euro zone's blue-chip Euro STOXX 50
gained 4.3 percent and Britain's FTSE 100
rose 2 percent.
Funds were helped by a 10 percent rise in the European
banking sector, after the European Central Bank provided
banks with 489 billion euros ($644 billion) of ultra-cheap,
long-term cash, with more expected at the end of this month.
Among the most high-profile winners was London-based Crispin
Odey, whose Odey European fund is up 14 percent so far this
year, with particularly strong performance coming in the past
The fund, which fell 20 percent last year, has benefited
from its bullish positioning on sectors such as banks and media
and individual stocks such as Pendragon and Sports
"Our stock selection has been good. It wasn't a
stockpicker's year last year but we held our nerve," Odey CEO
David Stewart told Reuters.
"The deep value stuff we've always liked ... is doing well,"
he added. "We think stocks are cheaper than other assets."
Lansdowne Partners, which manages around $16 billion as at
last year and which has been bullish on banks such as Lloyds
, saw its flagship UK fund return 5.7 percent in
The fund, run by Stuart Roden and Peter Davies, made
millions shorting banks during the financial crisis but lost
around 20 percent in 2011.
Pierre Lagrange, the long-haired Belgian who navigated
2011's choppy markets to return 7.2 percent over the year, made
4.7 percent in GLG's European long-short hedge fund in January,
according to a source familiar with the matter.
GLG, part of Man Group, the world's biggest listed
hedge fund manager, also saw gains of 4.2 percent in John
White's Alpha Select fund and 3.9 percent in its Emerging
And CQS's Australian founder Michael Hintze returned around
9 percent in his multi-strategy Directional Opportunities fund
for the month to January 27, said a source familiar with the
situation. CQS declined to comment.
Elsewhere, CapeView Capital, which was launched by Theo
Phanos and which focuses on credit and equity opportunities, saw
its flagship European credit fund rise close to 3 percent to
January 27, said an investor who had seen the figures.
However, some hedge funds were hurt by their defensive
positioning in rising markets.
Marshall Wace's $450 million Global Opportunities fund, an
equity long-short fund with an emerging markets bias, fell 4.19
percent during the month.
The portfolio, managed by Fehim Sever, gained 27.5 percent
last year as one of 2011's strongest performers.