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225 Hedge Funds in 'Billion Dollar Club'

If a billion dollars is what’s cool, then some 225 hedge funds deserve the accolade this year.

Close-up of a pen on stock price chart
Close-up of a pen on stock price chart

This “Billion Dollar Club”—funds managing more than $1 billion as ranked by the March issue of AR Magazine—saw their assets rise 10 percent last year as investors started emptying their pockets amid a rising stock market.

About $100 billion of new money trickled into these 225 funds, which collectively managed $1.3 trillion. That's roughly the gross domestic product of Canada.

For the group with assets surpassing $5 billion, the biggest percentage winner was Blenheim Capital Management. Assets in Willem Kooyker’s New Jersey-based funds grew to $5.2 billion, a 73 percent jump.

Two Sigma Investments and AQR Capital Management, both quant funds, also saw a lot of new money coming in, as investors sought to put stock market gains to work for themselves.

Rounding out the list were Pershing Square Capital Management and Lazard Asset Management, where alternative investments grew 41 percent from fund inflows to $5.68 billion. Pershing won big last year from bets on General Growth Properties, Fortune Brands and J.C. Penney.

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The giant hedge funds held their own. Ray Dalio-led Bridgewater Capital Management, the largest hedge fund at $58.9 billion assets under management, saw its inflows grow 35 percent. JP Morgan Asset Management, which includes the Highbridge Capital Management arm, grabbed $7 billion more in assets, with most of this growth funneling into the non-Highbridge funds.

Of note: Davidson Kempner, Och-Ziff Capital Management and Paulson & Co. made the top six for pulling in the most new money. Each grew assets by more than $4 billion. All three boast event-driven investing as a major strategy, which is more prosperous during upswings in merger activity.

But the rising tide did not lift all boats, with the year causing notable money managers like Stanley Druckenmiller and Paulson alum Paolo Pellegrini close up shop.

Invesco assets fell 16 percent. Funds managed by Harbinger Capital Partners were off 11 percent, with the firm acknowledging it had lost money on asset sales. Harbinger’s billionaire founder, Phil Falcone, has also been plagued by a host of lawsuits.

Losing the most dollar-wise was D.E. Shaw. Investors clawed back $9.4 billion, nearly 40 percent of the firm’s assets under management, when the fund removed a ban on withdrawals it had instituted in 2008.

Margaret Popper contributed to this story.