Hedge fund shut-downs pick up in 2014

The pace of hedge fund failures is picking up after another year of relatively weak returns.

Some 461 funds shut in the first half of the year, according to industry research firm HFR. If that pace continues, nearly 1,000 hedge funds will close in 2014. That would be the most since 2009, when 1,023 funds liquidated. The record was 1,471 in 2008 during the financial crisis, according to HFR.

"It's not unexpected that you see some of the weaker hands ... that really can't generate sustainable performance over periods of time looking at this environment and just deciding it's not worth the cost of operating," said Andrew Lee, head of alternative investment strategy at UBS Wealth Management.

Lee said that the investment environment was challenging overall for hedge funds, leading to poor performance at some shops, and that fundraising was also difficult for smaller and less established money managers, likely the source of many of the liquidations in 2014.

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Previously reported hedge fund shutdowns in 2014 include a macro fund run by BlueBay Asset Management; commodity and emerging markets vehicles managed by Brevan Howard Asset Management; Anderson Global Macro; Perella Weinberg's Xerion Fund; and Lonestar Capital.

Hedge fund industry assets have still increased overall this year. Funds have seen an estimated $190 billion of addition capital, or 7 percent, through October, according to HFR. Total global industry assets are $2.82 trillion.

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Many of the shuttered hedge funds appear to have come from two strategies that struggled earlier this year: firms that bet on macroeconomic trends and commodities.

Investors have pulled $20.7 billion in 2014 through September from macro funds, according to HFR, including $11.5 billion from commodity trading advisors. The HFRI Macro Index, which tracks such funds, is up 3.39 percent this year through October. The HFRI Macro Commodity Index returned an average of 3.9 percent. The average of all hedge funds regardless of strategy is a gain of 2.2 percent, per HFR.

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