Hedgemedia's AltInvestment Global News Round-Up: BlackRock quick to take alternatives plunge

Asset management giant BlackRock has agreed to buy the fund of funds business of Quellos for up to USD1.7bn. The combined businesses will be renamed BlackRock Alternative Advisors and will run USD25.4bn of assets. Jeffrey Greenstein, the chief executive of Seattle-based Quellos, will retire after the deal closes around October. Bryan White, who is investment chief at the USD20bn outfit, will become global head. BlackRock Alternative Advisors will manage both hedge funds and private equity vehicles.

Bear Stearns needs to put up only USD1.6bn to bailout its beleaguered four-year-old Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund. Just last week, it expected the bailout to cost it USD3.2bn, but the bank managed to shore up the fund - the less leveraged of the two vehicles hit by problematic CDO investments - via asset sales.

Chief executive James Cayne said he didn't foresee 'any material adverse effect' from providing the secured funding, but the New York firm called off a planned floatation of Everquest Finance, the holding company for its troubled funds run by Ralph Cioffi, senior managing director of Bear Stearns Asset Management. The offering had been expected to raise USD100m.

Cantor Fitzgerald announced details of its new fund-of-funds business, dubbed GoldRock Asset Management. Mark Ostroff, who previously co-founded Zenith Asset Management, which will be folded into GoldRock, becomes the new firm's president, reporting to Cantor chief executive Irvin Goldman.

Jumping on the hybrid bandwagon, BlackRock said it plans to launch a large-cap 130/30 fund.

In people news, John Budzyna, formerly the head of hedge fund administrator Olympia Capital Associates, joined Deutsche Bank as a managing director of their new hedge fund consulting business, reporting to Barry Bausano and Jonathan Hitchon, co-heads of global prime finance.

Meanwhile Betsy Gile, who was previously a board member at Deutsche Bank Trust and Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, is now at New York manager Blue Mountain, which runs USD4bn of assets in hedge funds and USD1.4bn in collateralised debt obligations.

GE real estate unit buys Blackstone portfolio
Goldman Sachs unit Whitehall Street Global Real Estate agreed to buy Equity Inns, the number three US hotel real estate investment trust based in Germantown, Tennessee, for USD2.2bn.

Arden Realty of West Los Angeles bought 38 per cent of the real estate assets of Blackstone Group, a portfolio of properties including 106 office buildings totalling 5.9 million square feet in the western US. The USD2bn acquisition is Arden's largest since it was bought by GE Real Estate in May 2006.

Vornado Realty Trust, the second largest US Reit, bought 15 shopping centres in northern New Jersey and Long Island for USD209m.

Jason Kelley has joined Apollo Real Estate Advisors to manage its real estate debt investment activities. He was previously chief credit officer at Sorin Capital Management.

ProShares to expand line-up of leveraged and short ETFs
ProShares has sought authorisation from the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch 25 new leveraged, inverse and inverse-leveraged exchange-traded funds focusing on international markets, fixed income and the biotechnology and telecommunications sectors.

Morgan Stanley in a report said that 67 managers are currently managing 916 ETFs worldwide, and their number is expected quickly to exceed 1,000, with a further 473 new funds in the works. The investment bank expects total ETF assets to reach USD2 trillion by 2011.

State Street has launched an ETF comprising the largest and most liquid companies in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Energy, financials and telecom are its most significant sectors.

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