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Optimal Investment Services, part of Spain's Grupo Santander, is building its fund of hedge funds investment team in London.


Amit Propat, who was previously head of UK Business development for Northern Trust Global Investments, is now Optimal's Senior Vice President with responsibility for developing the fund of hedge funds' investment business within the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe. Rajiv Jaitly, meanwhile, previously Head of Operational Risk Multi Manager Funds at GAM, fills the newly created Chief Risk Officer post where he will focus on reviewing the non-investment risk of the funds in which Optimal invests.


 "Optimal is an excellent firm with significant assets under management and performance track record of over 15 years, something very few fund of hedge funds have," says Propat. "I believe the demand for quality fund of hedge funds within the institutional market will accelerate and with the high number of new providers coming into the market consultants and trustees will be looking for those with a proven record for success, depth in research and access to the top hedge fund managers worldwide…all the factors that Optimal bring to the table".


Jaitily is equally enthusiastic about his new role with Optimal. 'Operational due diligence is essential when selecting investment managers," he says. "Optimal has a very strong investment research team, which is looking to find the best managers around the world. Independent of this process we need to diligently review the operations of each of our managers so that our investors know that we that we understand the operational as well as investment risks.'


Manuel Echeverria, Chief Executive Officer of Optimal, adds: "Both Amit and Rajiv are very important senior hires for Optimal.


"Amit brings significant understanding of the requirements of the institutional market. Demand for hedge funds within the institutional pensions market has grown significantly however so has the number of providers. With Amit's experience and Optimal's investment capabilities we have a strong investment proposition for the market.


"Rajiv also brings a wealth of experience and will complement the work we have already undertaken in reviewing both the investment capability and operational infrastructure of our managers. Optimal has grown significantly over the last few years from managing just USD 1bn in 2000 to now managing over USD5bn and, with the increase in regulation within the industry, we must be clear about all the benefits and risks when investing with a manager'


Background notes: Optimal manages a portfolio in excess of USD 5 billion, and offers a combination of multi-strategy, single strategy fund and advisory of hedge fund solutions for professional investors. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Santander Asset Management, a Spanish Corporation of the Santander Group. Santander Central Hispano is authorised by the Bank of Spain and Optimal Investment Services is subject to the code of conduct set out in relation to the Swiss Association of Asset Managers. Optimal's Bahamian Funds are registered with the Securities Commission of the Bahamas and the Irish Funds are registered with the Irish Financial Services Authority.


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