Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Now mutual funds are poaching from hedge funds

Hedged mutual funds growing

A senior portfolio manager at one of largest hedge funds in the world has decamped to Neuberger Berman to help expand the asset manager's growing lineup of alternative mutual funds.

Daniel Geber joined Neuberger in February as a managing director and will be the portfolio manager for the soon-to-launch Neuberger Berman Global Long Short Fund, according to an internal memo announcing the hire.

The new fund, slated to open in May, is the latest in Neuberger's expanding lineup of so-called alternative mutual funds—publicly accessible vehicles that mimic hedge fund strategies.

"This new capability is an important addition to our liquid alternatives platform, which now has approximately $3 billion," the memo said.

Neuberger Berger headquarters New York.
David Shankbone | Wikipedia

Geber was a lead portfolio manager at Man Group unit GLG Partners in New York. London-based Man is one of the 10 largest hedge fund firms in the world with $54 billion under management as of Dec. 31.

Focused on small-company stocks, Geber worked on long-only and long/short funds in both developed and emerging markets since February 2008, according to marketing materials. Geber previously worked at Epoch Investment Partners, Trident Investment Management, Omega Advisors and Goldman Sachs.

Geber also took an analyst, Thuy Tran, with him from GLG. Another analyst is expected to be hired for their team, according to the memo.

A spokesman for Neuberger confirmed the hires but declined further comment. A representative of Man declined to comment.

The launch is Neuberger's fourth fund of that type.

The asset manager launched its now-$6.5 million Long Short Multi-Manager Fund in December 2013 and the $745 million Absolute Return Multi-Manager Fund in May 2012. The firm also has a $2 billion Long Short Fund (launched in December 2011) and a $52 million Risk-Balanced Commodity Strategy Fund (launched in August 2012) as part of its alternative mutual fund portfolio.

"The growing investor demand for liquid alternatives is putting PMs who can go both long and short in hedge or mutual funds in high demand," said Sasha Jensen, founder of recruiting firm Jensen Partners. "The line between hedge and mutual funds is increasingly blurry."

(Read more: Sackler family makes $100M bet on low fees with Balter fund)

YearNo. of fundsYear-End Net Assets ($B) 200821336 200923847 201027863 201132676 201237591 2013411132

The Neuberger launch is part of the rapidly growing money management segment of liquid alternatives. A recent report by Barclays' prime brokerage unit, "Going Mainstream," noted that assets under management have grown at an annualized rate of 33 percent versus 14 percent for hedge funds since January 2009.

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The reasons, according to the report, include increased awareness of alternative strategies by retail investors and their advisors; concerns on how to protect portfolios from market drops; improving perceived quality of products, especially from brand-name hedge fund managers; and more obvious benefits of liquidity, transparency and lower fees.

—By CNBC's Lawrence Delevingne. Follow him on Twitter @ldelevingne.