02/12/2014

Bridgewater Douses Mutual Fund Scuttlebutt

Contrary to rumors, Bridgewater Associates says it has no plans to offer a mutual fund.

There has been persistent buzz over the past few months that the $150 billion manager wanted to launch a mutual fund or another type of SEC-registered vehicle to supplement its private offerings, Pure Alpha and All Weather. It’s unclear what triggered the rumors, though one source said the firm was looking to hire a marketer with mutual fund experience.

Others pointed to the fact that the All Weather strategy easily could be adapted for a mutual fund format, since it is long-only, highly liquid and uses little or no leverage. Bridgewater would join a growing list of hedge fund operators that have launched mutual funds in the past couple of years, whether to satisfy the liquidity needs of institutional clients or to attract retail investors.

But the Westport, Conn., firm denies it’s heading in that direction. “Bridgewater has no plans to launch a mutual fund or enter the retail market,” said marketing chief Parag Shah. “Our client base is entirely institutional.”

Bridgewater rival AQR Capital has long offered institutional clients access to its hedge fund strategies via mutual funds. More recently, Carlyle Group added a unit to manage so-called liquid-alternative mutual funds. Other large hedge fund managers eyeing the mutual-fund arena include D.E. Shaw and Two Sigma Investments.

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