LONDON Ultra-secretive trader Alan Howard has topped the rankings of wealthiest hedge fund managers in this year's Sunday Times Rich List, after his fund navigated the euro zone debt crisis last year to post bumper profits.
Howard, co-founder of Brevan Howard, one of Europe's biggest hedge fund firms, grew his total wealth by 44 percent to 1.4 billion pounds ($2.26 billion), the survey by the British newspaper shows.
The former Credit Suisse trader, who escaped Britain's top rate taxes in 2010 with a move to Switzerland, saw his firm's flagship $27 billion Master fund gain more than 12 percent last year, after making big gains betting that global bond markets had not properly priced in an economic slowdown.
The survey shows the top 10 managers added 972 million pounds to their fortunes since last year, despite a poor year for hedge funds in general with the average fund down 5.3 percent, according to Hedge Fund Research.
The biggest riser in the table was David Harding, founder of $29 billion fund firm Winton Capital, who almost doubled his personal wealth to 800 million pounds.
London-based Winton, which aims to make money following trends in global futures markets, made 6.3 percent last year even as rivals such as AHL - which he co-founded in the 1980s but later left - struggled.
On the back of strong gains in 2010 as well, Harding's firm is estimated to have sucked in $1 in every $8 of the total assets that investors ploughed into hedge funds worldwide last year.
Elsewhere in the top ten, Michael Platt, co-founder of $29.4 billion firm BlueCrest Capital and manager of its $10.8 billion global macro fund, was fourth with his wealth rising 24 percent to 650 million pounds.
Michael Hintze, founder of CQS is fifth with his fortune edging up by 30 million pounds to 580 million pounds, even though his $1.4 billion Directional Opportunities fund was down 10.5 percent last year.
And Crispin Odey, founder of Odey Asset Management, and wife Nichola Pease saw their wealth edge up to 455 million pounds in sixth position, despite a 20.6 percent drop in Odey's $1.3 billion European fund last year.
The Sunday Times Rich List lists the 1,000 richest people and families in the UK and the 250 wealthiest in Ireland.
($1 = 0.6206 British pounds)
(Reporting by Laurence Fletcher; Editing by Sinead Cruise and Elaine Hardcastle)