02/01/2012

Mariner Partnership Pitching Mutual Fund

Hedge fund heavyweight Mariner Investment has teamed up with managed-futures shop Hyman Beck to launch a mutual fund.

Mariner Hyman Beck Global Fund, which began trading in December, marks the latest example of an alternative-asset manager attempting to broaden its investor base by offering a mutual fund product. The vehicle’s strategy, which targets financial futures around the globe, also is available via a hedge fund that launched this month.

Under the terms of their partnership, Hyman Beck serves as portfolio manager, while Mariner handles marketing and risk management.

For Mariner, a $12 billion fund operator, the joint venture represents its first foray into managed futures. It also marks the first time the Harrison, N.Y., firm has offered a mutual fund — a move designed to attract investors concerned about the infrequent liquidity and tax headaches associated with hedge funds.

For Hyman Beck, based in Florham Park, N.J., the partnership means gaining access to Mariner’s formidable marketing team. “Distribution pipes take a long time to build up, and they have it down to a science,” an industry source said of Mariner.

The mutual fund comes with a low minimum-investment threshold, though Mariner doesn’t intend to market it to retail investors. Instead, it will be sold through advisors and brokerages that cater to wealthy clients.

Since the 2008 market rout, a growing number of hedge fund firms have rolled out mutual funds in an effort to boost assets under management. In some cases, the funds have been marketed to smaller investors. But they’re mainly aimed at deep-pocketed investors, including institutions, that want more frequent liquidity, stricter regulatory controls and a simpler tax structure than they’d get with a hedge fund.

Other hedge fund managers making the move include Whitebox Advisors, a $2 billion operation run by convertible-bond guru Andrew Redleaf. This month, the Minneapolis firm launched a mutual fund called Whitebox Tactical Opportunities Fund. Another one, dubbed Whitebox Enhanced Convertible Fund, is expected to begin trading shortly.

Mariner is led by William Michaelcheck, who founded the firm in 1992. Hyman Beck was founded in 1991 by Alexander Hyman and Carl Beck.

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