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Shipbroker Clarksons is moving ahead with plans to launch a Cayman Islands-registered, shipping-only hedge fund with seed capital of USD 20-30 million.

The aim is to secure returns of 15-20 per cent by high-risk trading strategies in both the dry bulk and tanker markets, primarily derivatives.

The fund will be launched at the start of 2006, with the world's largest shipbroker seeking to raise USD 200-300 million for the project.

Pierre Aury, managing director of Clarksons Capital, said that the minimum investment for anyone seeking to sign up would be GBP 1m. "But," he says: "We are looking at a number of people with a much bigger investment than that."

Aury estimates that Clarksons Shipping Hedge Fund, as it will be known, could attract around 20 clients, and is being targeted in the first instance at professional investors from outside shipping, rather than shipowners in particular.

He adds: "I'm sure that on the way we will pick up a number of people from shipping."

Members will be charged a 2 per cent management fee, as well as 20 per cent of any profits generated.

Aury himself hails from a shipping background, although personnel with direct hedge fund experience have been hired for the project. Their identities or track records in the sector are unknown at this time.

Freight derivatives, in which the fund will specialise, remain on a firm growth trend, with traded volumes increasing fourfold over the last four years. The addition of clearing services in London and New York to those of Oslo-based NOS, are being touted as the spark that will ignite further volume and value growth.

The Clarksons fund joins similar ventures by Oceanic, Azimuth and Sector Asset Management in attempting to bring institutional investors closer to shipping. SAM had an estimated portfolio value last year of GBP 500 million.


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