Michael Coleman (pictured), managing director of Singapore-based Aisling Analytics, is suspending a 30-year trading career to focus on risk reported Bloomberg this week, after the firm’s Merchant Commodity Fund lost 30 per cent and its assets contracted from USD1.56billion to around USD550million. Coleman will become chief risk officer whilst the hedge fund’s assets will mostly be traded by co-founder Doug King in his capacity as chief investment officer. Apparently the fund’s biggest losing bet last year was sugar with Coleman saying they were wrong twice, being bullish at the end of 2010 before prices dropped in February and March and getting on the wrong side of the trade again when the commodity rallied in June and July. Commodity price swings proved hard but despite Merchant’s drop in performance it has still managed to return 236 per cent to its initial investors (the fund launched in 2004).
“The cause of our loss came from a few changes in supply and demand, nothing dramatic,” Coleman was quoted as saying. “Normally we have seven wins to three losses. Last year, we were down four wins to six losses.” According to King the fund is increasing its core investments in oil, coal and freight, adding traders accordingly, although he added that the firm remains “totally opportunity-driven” and that if the opportunity is in agriculture “we will still weight our investments in that sector”. The firm is bullish on soybeans and vegetable oils. “It was an ugly, ugly year. Our volatility has been heightened over the past three or four years and our goal is to cut that volatility,” said King. Due to the management changes the firm’s office in Zug, Switzerland is closing. King has relocated to London and three staff will also be transferring there as a result.