Equity long/short and absolute return funds outpace Australia's rampant equities

Australian long/short equity and absolute return hedge funds that have outperformed the country's record-breaking equities market have been honoured at the 2007 Australian Hedge Fund Awards on September 27.

The long/short equity and absolute return sector returned a net 25.07 per cent per annum over the 24 months to June 30, compared with the 24.6 per cent performance of Australia's All Ordinaries Index over the same period.

Among the most stellar performers over the past two years has been Regal Funds Management, whose Regal Atlantic Absolute Return Fund was named Hedge Fund of the Year at the awards ceremony. Established in 2004, the AUD80m fund has produced an average annual return of 125.63 per cent over the 24 months to June.

The Melbourne-based managers of the K2 Select International Absolute Return Fund received the award for Best Long Short & Absolute Return Fund, while the Warakirri Alternative was named Best Fund of Funds.

Cadence Asset Management, the Sydney-based manager of the Cadence Capital long/short Australian equities fund established in October 2005, received the title of Best Emerging Manager. The BGI Total Return - Australian Equity Market Neutral fund was honoured as the country's best market neutral fund, while the award for Best Global Macro/Futures Fund went to GMO Global Tactical Trust.

'The high calibre of this year's winners is a testament to the local talent and commitment to Australia's AUD63bn hedge fund industry, which is expected to quadruple by 2015,' says
Damien Hatfield, managing director and co-founder of hedge fund marketing and research firm Hatfield Liptak Advisors.

Hatfield, a former chairman of the Australian chapter of the Alternative Investment Management Association, says this year's award-winners have set an industry's benchmark for future performance. Funds were judged on their ability to provide investors consistent absolute returns, and absorb downside risk, from launch to June 30 this year.

John Morrison, global chief executive of Man Investments and former head of the group's Australian and New Zealand operations, was honoured with the Contribution to the Australian Hedge Fund Industry Award. 'The industry has benefited enormously over the years from John's experience and energy that has helped shape and grow the Australian hedge fund landscape to be the powerhouse it is today,' Hatfield says.

Colonial First State, which won the Award for Best Investor Supporting Australian Managers, has played a critical role in educating both institutional and retail investors on exposure to alternative strategies, Hatfield says: 'Colonial First State has considered and invested in local hedge fund managers further supporting the development of the local industry.'

Support from the hedge fund community over the years has helped raise close to AUD1.5m million for Cure Our Kids, a Sydney-based charity that aims to improve the lives of young patients at the Children's Hospital at Westmead and their families, according to Carolyn Dodds, founder of the awards programme and organiser of the Hedge Funds Rock charity event, which was held together with the awards.

'Every year support from the hedge fund community grows thanks to a solid band of hedge fund professionals who have helped build a great programme that rewards the sector, and improves the lives of young cancer patients and their families,' she says.

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