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Rich get richer: Assets of largest hedge funds soar

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

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 , 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 Associates93.77.58%14.41%
J.P. Morgan Asset Management62.66.10%23.72%
Och-Ziff Capital Management Group45.512.07%34.22%
BlackRock34.276.49%19.20%
AQR Capital Management31.65.69%30.58%
Baupost Group29.3NANA
Adage Capital Management278.00%22.73%
Renaissance Technologies25.56.25%6.25%
Elliott Management Corporation24.86.44%12.73%
Davidson Kempner Capital Management23.77.73%12.11%

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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.