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Mike Nicol, the highly rated European equity manager, is joining Edinburgh-based Martin Currie today to launch a new European long/short equity fund. The company expects to launch the new fund in June.

Until late December 2002 Mr Nicol, 42, was at SVM, where he was co-manager of the top-performing* Highlander European long/short equity fund. He has managed European equities for over 17 years and has a strong record on both long only and long/short products.

Mr Nicol will be the lead manager on the new Martin Currie European Absolute Return Fund and will work closely with Dino Fuschillo, head of the European equity team, who will be co-manager of the fund.

Martin Currie is steadily growing its hedge fund business. It currently manages over US$300 million in four equity long/short funds investing in Japan, UK, Asia and China.

Allan MacLeod, Managing Director of Martin Currie's hedge fund business, said: "The addition of a European fund is a natural extension to the existing range. With Mike Nicol in charge, this fund will continue Martin Currie's growth in the hedge fund business and bring seasoned hedge fund talent to an area where investors' demand is large".

To raise capital for the new fund, Martin Currie has entered into a private placement and seeding agreement with Fortune Asset Management, the London-based hedge fund specialist, which recently set up the Emerging Manager Program to identify a new generation of outstanding hedge fund managers. In recent years the firm has sponsored funds including Lazard European Opportunities and SVM's Highlander.

Simon Hopkins, Managing Director of Fortune, said: "It is rare that one has the opportunity to invest with a proven hedge fund manager who has nearly 20 years' experience and a top-performing record. We have followed Mike for a number of years, both through our research partners at Global Fund Analysis and as an investor, and believe that Mike is among the most gifted European hedge fund managers. Dino's record speaks for itself."

Mr Hopkins added: "We're pleased that Martin Currie will be launching this fund. As a firm, Martin Currie is dedicating substantial resources to growing its hedge fund business."

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