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Former Atticus manager to open new firm

Date: Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Author: Reuters

Dilan Siritunga, a longtime executive at the hedge fund firm Atticus Capital LP, is planning to open his own firm, according to a person familiar with his plans.

Siritunga will become the latest in a string of fund managers to leave Atticus, one of the hedge fund industry's biggest and best-known activist investors until its founder liquidated two portfolios last year.

Siritunga's new firm does not yet have a name but his plans are already generating buzz in the tight-knit investment community, where pension funds and endowments are ready to put more money to work in the $1.5 trillion (1 trillion pound) industry, investors and industry analysts said.

The fund manager is credited with having helped Atticus founder Timothy Barakett grow the firm into one of the industry's biggest players.

Atticus took large bets on companies and invested nearly $20 billion at its peak in 2007.

Because of his strong track record and long stay at Atticus, investors and analysts said they expect Siritunga to be able to raise money relatively quickly, even though it has become more difficult to launch new funds after the financial crisis.

Siritunga did not return a call seeking comment.

Barakett is one of the first investors in his long-time lieutenant's new venture, said the person who was not allowed to speak about firm publicly because the fund is private.

Siritunga and Barakett both earned business degrees at Harvard and the two men devoted most of their professional lives to growing Atticus into a powerhouse. The flagship Atticus Global fund gained 19 percent annually while the broader stock index climbed 4 percent since its inception in 1996.

Indeed, Siritunga still works in the mid-town Manhattan office building where Atticus had its headquarters.

In August, Barakett surprised some investors when he closed his $3.5 billion flagship fund and a smaller portfolio with $600 million in order to spend more time with his family.

"I have been blessed with great investors, partners, employees, and a lot of good luck," Barakett told investors in his August letter.

Now he is sending some of his personal fortune to be invested by some of those former colleagues.

In addition to writing a check to Siritunga, Barakett was one of the first investors in Atwater Capital, an Atticus spinoff founded by Kris Green and Lee Pollock this year, people familiar with that fund said.

Former Atticus employees Ed Bosek and Noam Ohana also spun out of the firm and founded Beacon Light Capital, which is investing in global equities.

Elsewhere, Farallon Capital Management LLC told its investors this week that four partners -- William Duhamel, Jason Moment, Ashish Pant and Rich Voon -- are setting up their own firm.

The four concentrated on picking undervalued stocks at Farallon, the San Francisco-based fund firm that manages roughly $21 billion and boasts a 35 percent trailing 12 month return through the end of February, a person familiar with the returns and departures said.

The firm's assets have fallen 41 percent from its peak before the financial crisis began.