01/05/2011

Ex-UBS Crew Plans Fund-Raising Campaign

A former UBS portfolio manager who once oversaw $240 billion of assets will soon begin marketing a global-macro strategy that has gained better than 15% in a little over a year.

Brian Singer set up Singer Partners in September 2009 with the idea of building a track record before raising outside capital. He and a half dozen members of his portfolio-management team from UBS started out trading about $10 million of “friends and family” money. Since then, the Winnetka, Ill., firm has grown to $150 million under management — without any formal marketing.

Now, Singer is gearing up to launch a fund-raising campaign in the second quarter. The first step: hiring an in-house marketing professional. Singer has interviewed two candidates already.

The global-macro vehicle mostly trades derivatives, including futures, options and swaps. Singer generally shuns individual stocks and bonds in favor of bets on indexes, as well as exchange-traded funds. The fund, which began trading in October 2009, is unleveraged.

Aside from the early gains, investors will likely be attracted by the fund's fee structure: just 1% of assets and no performance fee for the first five years. Once the performance fee kicks in, investors will pay only for profits above and beyond market gains.

“He's trying to do the right thing,” said a fund-of-funds executive familiar with Singer's business. “He's trying to have clients pay for only real skill, as opposed to taking market risk.”

Singer spent 18 years at UBS through 2007, most recently holding the title of chief investment officer for North and South America. He left the Swiss bank to start his own business, but was sidelined by a two-year non-compete clause in his employment contract.

At least six members of his old portfolio-management team are now working at Singer Partners: Edwin Denson, who oversaw asset allocation for the UBS portfolio; Tom Clarke, who ran currency trading; Edouard Senechal, who previously oversaw risk for North America; former chief technology officer Guy Bloomfield; former macro-risk manager Renato Staub; and former general counsel Mike Jacobs. All hold similar positions at Singer's firm.

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