LONDON, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Shahriar Tadjbakhsh, the former chief operating officer (COO) of Exor, the Agnelli family’s investment company, has launched an activist hedge fund in Europe called Altaone Capital, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Tadjbakhsh, 52, a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin who was previously a partner at Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs, has teamed up with Behdad Alizadeh, formerly of U.S. activist fund Pardus Capital, according to the sources, who wished to remain anonymous.
The duo plan to raise up to 500 million pounds ($754 million) from wealthy private families and investors, according to one of the sources.
Altaone declined to comment.
Activist investors, who aim to make money by buying shares of companies and then pushing them to change their strategy, have in recent years launched many high profile corporate battles in the United States and to a lesser extent in Europe.
Though a tiny part of the $3 trillion hedge fund industry with only about 165 such firms globally, their often vocal criticism of company managements attracts publicity and can improve the share price performance of their targets.
Altaone Capital was incorporated in Britain on Aug. 18, 2014, according to a filing in Companies House, and was authorised to conduct regulated financial services activity by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority on June 18. 2015.
Tadjbakhsh joined Exor, which controls carmaker Fiat-Chrysler, in May 2012, based in Turin, from Goldman Sachs in Japan, where he was chief operating officer for investment banking. Prior to his posting in Japan, he worked with Goldman in New York from 1996, before moving to Paris.
He left after little more then two years at the Agnellis’ investment company where he was tasked with streamlining its investment portfolio to concentrate on companies with a global reach.
Alizadeh, 54, previously worked at Pardus Capital Management, the U.S. activist fund that took on French car parts maker Valeo and IT services group Atos Origin in 2008 and won board seats at both.
Assets managed by activist hedge funds have surged six-fold in the last 10 years to $120 billion, according to the Alternative Investment Management Association.
In the first half of 2015, 300 companies globally were publicly targeted by activist investors, two-thirds of the total for the whole of 2014, but just 16 percent of those were in Asia and Europe, according to research firm Activist Insight.
Activist hedge funds have returned an average 1.3 percent in the year to Nov. 16, data from industry tracker HFR showed. This compares with an average gain for all funds of just 0.1 percent.
$1 = 0.6635 pounds Additional reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Mark Potter