In one of the largest hedge fund launches in Europe this year, MPC Investors has launched the USD900m Samsara fund, a pan-European equity long/short fund managed by star fund manager Ajay Gambhir who joined from JPMorgan in May.

The Samsara fund uses a directional long/short equity strategy, using bottom-up stock selection as the principal driver for fund returns blended with an element of top down overlay. It targets an annual return of more than 15 per cent, using typical gross exposure of 200-250 per cent, and uses the euro as base currency with US dollar and sterling hedged share classes.
The fund's custodian and administrator is HSBC and its prime brokers are UBS and Deutsche Bank.

Gambhir's investment philosophy is based on three principles: clinical fundamental analysis, the belief that human biases distort rational behaviour, and valuation as the cornerstone to every investment.

The Samsara fund follows the strategy adopted by Gambhir's JPMorgan Europe Dynamic Long Short fund, which returned 31.5 per cent in 2005 and 40.2 per cent last year net of fees. Over the three years to the end of 2006 the fund returned 104.7 per cent with a Sharpe ratio of 3.1. The fund won the Eurohedge Best European Equities Hedge Fund 2006 award for funds with less than USD500m in assets.

Gambhir was previously managing director and head of the European high alpha team at JPMorgan Asset Management, running more than USD8bn of assets. Gambhir himself managed USD6bn of assets in either absolute return or in unconstrained vehicles.

MPC is an independent asset manager founded in 2000 that managed USD1.9bn in four hedge funds before the launch of Samsara. MPC Pilgrim Fund and MPC Pilgrim Select Fund, managed by John Innes and his team, are Anglo-European long/short equity funds with around GBP550m in assets. MPC Pilgrim has delivered a net return of more than 114 per cent since its launch.

The Pilgrim team also runs the Hiscox UK Opportunities Fund and the St James's Place UK Growth Unit Trust. Miles Geldard's team run the MPC Global Convertibles and MPC Strategic Reserve funds, which launched in January this year and already have more than USD600m of assets.

Miles Geldard also manages MPC Strategic Opportunities, a macro-orientated strategy launched in July that has already returned 1.62 per cent, generating an exceptional 0.47 per cent during the difficult conditions of August.

'The launch of this fund demonstrates how our business has developed in the last 18 months,' says MPC chief executive Peter Harris. 'Alongside John Innes and Miles Geldard, Ajay's fund means MPC now has three of the industry's most exceptional investors running hedge funds.

'Ajay was very successful as the manager of a similar fund at JPMorgan and we are delighted that he is now running a similar fund at MPC. Ajay is an immensely talented fund manager with an exceptional track record and the ability to prevail in both bull and bear markets.

'The USD900m raised for Samsara was at the top end of our expectations and highlights the confidence investors have in both Ajay and MPC Investors, even with the market turbulence of the past couple of months.'


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