07/20/2011

Former Blue Ridge Exec Plans Fund Launch

A founding member of John Griffin’s Blue Ridge Capital is laying the groundwork for a hedge fund that has the potential for a blockbuster launch.

Richard Gerson, who spent 15 years at Blue Ridge before setting out on his own in recent months, plans to open an office in New York, where he’s expected to begin trading a global stock vehicle early next year. Market players said the fund could launch with $1 billion or more, based on Gerson’s tenure at the $6.8 billion Blue Ridge. Another plus: The operation appears to have the blessing of Griffin, one of the original “Tiger cubs” who worked under Julian Robertson at Tiger Management. The word is that some Blue Ridge investors are ready to invest with Gerson.

Meanwhile, Gerson has begun searching for office space and hiring key personnel. Set to join as chief operating officer is Martin Byman, who previously was co-head of European prime brokerage at Morgan Stanley. Byman spent 15 years at the investment bank before resigning in February.

At Blue Ridge, Gerson oversaw a range of investments around the world. Among other things, he co-founded Blue Ridge China, a private equity unit focused on Chinese companies. Gerson had worked at Blue Ridge almost from the start. Griffin founded the firm in 1996, following a three-year stint as president of Tiger Management.

Gerson is the brother of Mark Gerson, chairman of expert-network firm Gerson Lehrman.

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