Renaissance Said to Start Trading New Fund With $3.5 Billion

Renaissance LLC, the investment firm founded by Jim Simons, started trading its new hedge fund on March 1 with $3.5 billion in assets, mostly employees’ money, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The Renaissance Institutional Diversified Alpha Fund is the first that the East Setauket, New York-based firm has started in five years. It climbed 3 percent in March and during the first 13 days of April, according to one of the people briefed on the return, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Renaissance uses computer models to decide when to buy and sell investments. The firm has said that its new fund, known as RIDA, was to initially start out trading stocks listed on U.S. exchanges as well as futures and forwards, according to a document sent to potential investors in January. Apart from the majority of the assets that came from employees, some of the money for RIDA came from outside clients and a portion was transferred from other funds, the person said.

The decision to start the new fund came a little more than a year after Peter Brown and Robert Mercer, co-chief executive officers and former International Business Machines Corp. language-recognition specialists, took over from Simons, 73, who retired in 2010.

Renaissance already runs the $7 billion Renaissance Institutional Equities Fund and the $4 billion Renaissance Institutional Futures Fund, along with a third fund that is open only to the firm’s employees. The equities fund, known as RIEF, climbed 11 percent this year through April 13 and 35 percent last year, the person said.

Unlike the firm’s equities fund, which is designed to outperform the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by 4 percentage points to 6 percentage points, the new fund won’t be measured against a benchmark and its swings in performance are also expected to be greater than RIEF’s, according to the document.

Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for Renaissance, declined to comment on the firm’s assets or performance.

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