Funds News

UPDATE 1-Viking Global says Purcell leaving hedge fund -letter

(Adds details about the firm and Purcell’s role, performance)

BOSTON, March 4 (Reuters) - Long-time Viking Global Investors executive Tom Purcell is leaving the $32 billion hedge fund to invest his personal fortune and pursue other interests, the firm said this week in a letter to investors.

Purcell, 44, who joined Viking nearly 16 years ago and was co-chief investment officer until last year, decided to resign only weeks after returning from several months away on leave, the fund said in the letter dated March 2 and seen by Reuters.

“Since returning from sabbatical at the beginning of the year, Tom Purcell has explored various roles at Viking and has come to the conclusion that he wishes to manage his personal investments and explore some outside business interests,” the letter said. The firm offered to connect investors with Purcell if they wanted to get in touch.

Viking chief executive officer Andreas Halvorsen reorganized the firm’s top ranks in July, naming Dan Sundheim as sole chief investment officer after Purcell, with whom Sundheim had been co-CIO, went on a six months-long leave of absence.

Purcell, who joined Viking as an analyst on the financials team, had served on the firm’s investment steering, management and executive committees, the letter said.

The departure comes after senior manager James Parsons left in 2012 and Dris Upitis, who had been a management committee member, resigned in early 2011.

Viking has long been a favorite with big-name investors. Last year the hedge fund returned 13.4 percent, beating the average fund’s 3.5 percent return. Since it’s inception, Viking has returned nearly 18 percent a year.

Halvorsen, who co-founded the firm with David Ott in 1999 after working for industry legend Julian Robertson, has long emphasized how the firm’s strong team culture removes pressure from one or two people at the top.

. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Andrew Hay)