Hedge Fund Restructurings Becoming a Viable, and Variable, Alternative to Liquidation

Low or negative returns and high redemptions in 2008 seem to have effected a qualitative shift in the environment in which hedge funds exist and invest.  Alpha, long the coveted goal of managers, appears to have been replaced in many cases, at least for now, by a more mundane goal: survival. According to research by hedge fund investor consultant Hennessee Group, hedge funds suffered $382 billion in investment losses in 2008, coupled with $399 billion in net redemptions.  At the start of the year, the industry managed an estimated $2 trillion in assets.  That number has sunk to an estimated $1.2 trillion.  The industry, in short, has shrunk by almost half.  Hedge funds faced with significant redemption requests have a number of options; those options, of course, are constrained by the fund’s governing documents and side letters and the quantity of redemptions requested in a particular period.  At the most draconian, a fund can liquidate.  Another, slightly less extreme move is to suspend redemptions or impose gates.  Yet another approach being taken by some managers involves hedge fund “restructurings” – in effect, changing the basic deal with investors, of course, with whatever level of investor consent is required by the fund’s governing documents and jurisdiction of organization.  At bottom, a hedge fund reorganization serves as a mutual recognition by the manager and investors that the facts as they existed on the date of organization of the fund no longer obtain, and the changed circumstances warrant a revised investment structure.  We offer a comprehensive overview of the variety of approaches that hedge fund managers are taking in the context of fund restructurings.

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