Asian Century Quest Capital, a New York-based hedge fund firm that managed nearly $2 billion in 2012, is down to less than $100 million in assets following client redemptions and tepid performance, according to a person familiar with the situation.
But ACQ, as Brian Kelly's firm is also known, is staying alive despite rumors that it would shut entirely after the roughly 95 percent drop in capital in less than two years.
It will continue to manage the ACQ Equity Income Fund, which as a long-only fund does not take positions against stocks, for a small group of external investors, according to the person. All other funds, including the flagship long/short equity hedge fund, are in the process of being liquidated and most money has already been returned to investors.
Kelly declined to comment.
(Read more: Asia shares find tentative support, mood brittle)
ACQ was founded in 2005 by Maverick Capital veteran Kelly and focused on betting for and against Asian stocks. The firm grew quickly and managed as much as $1.74 billion on July 1, 2012, according to data from HedgeFund Intelligence.
But the firm gained only about 5.5 percent net of fees in 2013, hurt in part by shorts of Japanese companies. By comparison, the Dow Jones Asia/Pacific Total Stock Market Index gained more than 10 percent in 2013 and the Japanese Nikkei 225 Index rose nearly 57 percent.
ACQ now has nine total staffers with five of them focused on investing, according to the person. That's down from 33 in 2013, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Two employees, Paul Saferstein and Adam Wolfman, have elected to stay with ACQ after considering spinning off their own money management firm.