Certain Hedge Funds are Using Enhanced Investor Liquidity as a Marketing Tool

The credit crisis has been caused in large part by financial market participants assigning too great a value to assets.  In the hedge fund context, however, the crisis has also highlighted an asset to which managers and investors historically have assigned too little value: liquidity.  As formerly liquid markets froze in late 2007 and 2008, liquidity assumed a more prominent place in the total mix of value offered by certain hedge funds.  Along with absolute return, diversification, low correlation with traditional asset classes and access to unique strategies, liquidity became something many investors wanted but only a handful of managers could deliver.  In a word, during the crisis, liquidity was in high demand and short supply.  As markets have begun to thaw – or at least the perception of a thaw has become more widely held among market participants – supplying liquidity has become more feasible, yet the demand for liquidity remains every bit as strong (and shows little sign of abating).  Where practicable (an important caveat), hedge fund managers are meeting this demand with new or restructured funds with enhanced liquidity terms.  In particular, managers are enhancing liquidity by: (1) shortening the initial lock-up period, that is, the period during which an investment cannot be redeemed or can only be redeemed subject to a significant penalty; (2) offering redemptions without penalties at more frequent intervals following the initial lock-up period; (3) shortening the notice required in connection with redemption requests; and (4) restricting the range of tools available to the manager to suspend or delay redemptions (such as gates or suspensions).  The primary goal of offering increased liquidity is raising and retaining assets at a time when the balance of power still tips in favor of institutional investors.  We detail specific terms that managers are changing to enhance liquidity, and explore how to manage redemptions in light of enhanced liquidity, what types of funds can offer enhanced liquidity and potential detriments for the manager and non-redeeming investors.  In addition, we highlight two benefits to the manager of enhanced liquidity that have received little attention to date.

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