03/16/2011

Online Forum Would Link Managers and LPs

Former Merlin Securities technology chief Amr Mohamed has resurfaced with plans to launch a website connecting hedge funds with their limited partners.

From his New York firm, HedgeWave, Mohamed plans to begin beta-testing the online service in about four months, then go live a few months after that. The idea behind the website is to make it easier for fund managers to communicate with their investors, and provide limited partners with one-stop shopping for performance data, net-asset values and other information.

Here's how it would work: Fund operators would upload investor communications to a password-protected site. HedgeWave would then aggregate the relevant information for each investor. Information on all of an investor's hedge funds would be available at a glance assuming each of the fund managers uses the site.

The time-saving benefits are potentially substantial for limited partners who work with multiple managers. Those investors currently receive information about their holdings via e-mails or by logging on to separate websites. Now, they'll be able to access all of the data in one location.

Mohamed plans to offer the service free of charge both to managers and investors. How will HedgeWave make money? Initially, by selling advertising on the website. Down the road, Mohamed may charge for analytical tools that investors could use to help select managers. Other offerings could be aimed at managers. One novel idea: a system that tracks analyst stock picks, so that a portfolio manager could easily review a job candidate's track record.

Mohamed was credited with building Merlin's technology infrastructure, which allowed the prime brokerage to compete with much larger operations. He resigned from the San Francisco firm last month.

Before joining Merlin, Mohamed held a senior technology position in Bank of America's prime-brokerage operation. Earlier in his career, he developed the first internet service provider in Egypt, called Egypt Online, which made its debut in 1996.

Mohamed is among a growing number of technology specialists seeking to apply social networking to the hedge fund industry. In 2009, former hedge fund manager Stephen Colangelo Jr. launched HedgeCommunity.com, a marketing forum for hedge fund managers and service providers. Last year, Gerard Laffan, a former fund-linked derivatives specialist, rolled out Whosinmyfund.com., which allows investors to share notes on hedge funds.

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