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Passport Said to Fire 14 Employees After Hedge Fund Loss

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March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Passport Capital LLC, the $3.8 billion hedge fund run by John Burbank, fired 14 employees within the past week after losses in 2011, said two people with knowledge of the the matter.

Passport’s dismissals include seven employees on the investment staff, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Passport, which slumped 18 percent in 2011, gained 3.7 percent this year through February, the people said.

“We made the difficult decision to do some downsizing of staff last week, reducing to approximately the headcount we had at the beginning of 2011,” San Francisco-based Passport said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Steve Bruce, a spokesman for the firm, declined to comment on the firings beyond the statement.

Passport, a multistrategy hedge fund, was founded by Burbank in 2000 and now employs 76 people, 34 of whom are investment staff, one of the people said. It invests in agriculture, basic materials, energy, financial services, health care, capital markets and the Internet, among other things, according to the firm’s website.

Hedge funds, which lost 5.8 percent on average last year amid concern the European debt crisis would worsen, gained 3.6 percent in the first two months of 2012 on expectations it would be contained, according to the Bloomberg aggregate hedge fund index.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kelly Bit in New York at kbit@bloomberg.net; Nathaniel Baker in New York at nbaker14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at cbaumgaertel@bloomberg.net

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