Rich get richer: Assets of largest hedge funds soar

Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates
Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates

The rich keep getting richer in hedge fund land.

A new investigation of industry assets by Absolute Return reveals that, once again, the largest funds are controlling more assets than ever.

The publication's twice-yearly Billion Dollar Club analysis, which ranks the assets of all Americas-based firms with at least $1 billion in hedge fund strategies, increased to 305 firms that managed $1.84 trillion as of July 1, up from 293 firms that managed $1.71 trillion at the start of 2014.

Bridgewater Associates remains the largest hedge fund manager in the Americas, followed by J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Och-Ziff Capital Management and BlackRock.

The largest U.S. hedge fund managers

Firm Name
AUM ($B) 7/1/14
6-mo. Change
12-mo. Change
Bridgewater Associates 93.7 7.58% 14.41%
J.P. Morgan Asset Management 62.6 6.10% 23.72%
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group 45.5 12.07% 34.22%
BlackRock 34.27 6.49% 19.20%
AQR Capital Management 31.6 5.69% 30.58%
Baupost Group 29.3 NA NA
Adage Capital Management 27 8.00% 22.73%
Renaissance Technologies 25.5 6.25% 6.25%
Elliott Management Corporation 24.8 6.44% 12.73%
Davidson Kempner Capital Management 23.7 7.73% 12.11%
Source: Absolute Return / HedgeFund Intelligence

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Two-thirds of Billion Dollar Club firms gained in size this year, with average assets up 8.38 percent in the past six months, according to AR. Interestingly, the publication found that the 50 largest firms lagged that broader growth rate, increasing assets by only 7.76 percent.

Ray Dalio's Bridgewater bucked that trend, adding more than anyone—$6.6 billion—to its hedge fund strategies in the first half of 2014. The firm also recently disclosed that it is launching a new "Optimal Portfolio" strategy that will likely push assets even higher (Bridgewater manages $163 billion overall including non-hedge fund assets).

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Hedge funds of all sizes are now back past their pre-crisis peak. Global hedge fund assets now stand at $2.869 trillion as of July 1, according to a separate assessment by HedgeFund Intelligence. The previous record was $2.697 trillion in June 2008.