Hedge fund managers and investors gather in Toronto

Date: Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Author: Jonathan Ratner, National Post

When dozens of Canadian hedge fund managers gather as they did in downtown Toronto's Hedge Fund Hotel last Thursday, with 21 individual presentations courtesy of both interesting start-ups and established fund groups, its a hot ticket.

Bringing together a group of a hundred or so people – consisting primarily of Canadian hedge fund managers, some family offices, institutional investors, and their U.S. counterparts – was the work of Karen Azlen of Introduction Capital, as well as sponsors BMO Capital Markets and SGGG Fund Services Inc.

Names like Ravi Sood from Lawrence Asset Management, Gary Selke at Front Street Capital and Eric Sprott from Sprott Asset Management, were among those who detailed their strategies and various funds. This was accompanied by interesting and often amusing commentary by moderator and Allaboutalpha.com editor Chris Holt.

And people are already buzzing about the next Investor Meets Hedge Fund Manager Forum in October.

But it’s not only because of the beer, wine and cheese served after a day of short presentations from each manager – although the chatter over drinks was indeed interesting.

It’s also because this group got a chance to see and discuss how hedge funds are taking on more varied forms every day, attracting investors with a wide range of risk profiles and interests.

But this same variety is also raising some eyebrows from those who prefer the more traditional definition of a hedge fund.

The differences were clear. Some fund managers labelled themselves “stockpickers” who mostly go long, while others emphasized the fact that they focus on short-selling.

Other strategies discussed included debt-equity balancing, ETFs, capitalizing on the current M&A surge and in some cases, avoiding short selling as a result, finding opportunities that remain in the income trust sector, and foreign exchange plays. Others tried to attract interest by focusing on personnel and relationship-building with clients, or unique and rare market events, the limits on their fund’s size, activist investing, or how they capitalize on companies in restructuring or with balance sheet problems.

Regardless of their strategies, many managers wanted to stress the point that they have large amounts or all of their own money invested in the funds they manage, something you won’t likely find elsewhere.

And who doesn’t like to boast about how much their rate-of-return beat the TSX benchmark? Maybe they attracted some new investor money. Regardless, it was a networking opportunity – key in Canada’s burgeoning hedge fund industry.

Jonathan Ratner