Claren Road Clients Asked to Pull $1.97 Billion After Losses

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Carlyle Hedge Fund Hurdles: What Happened at Claren Road?

Investors in Carlyle Group LP’s Claren Road Asset Management asked to pull about 48 percent of the hedge fund’s $4.1 billion in assets after losses this year, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The firm is facing $1.97 billion in withdrawals for the end of the quarter, said the person, who asked not to be named because the information is private. Its main fund has fallen 5.6 percent this year through mid-August on wagers on Greece, energy and financials, the person said.

Claren Road’s troubles started last year when it posted its first annual loss as wagers in U.S.-backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac turned sour. Its assets are down from a peak of $8.5 billion last September. Carlyle, which owns a 55 percent stake in the firm, said Monday in a filing it expects to write down the value of its investment by $100 million to $175 million in the third quarter.

The holding was worth $216 million as of June 30, according to the filing. Carlyle bought the stake five years ago.

Albert Marino, chief operating officer at New York-based Claren Road, declined to comment.

Distressed Debt

Claren Road invests in everything from distressed debt to municipal bonds. Its main fund gained 1.7 percent in the first two weeks of August, the person said. It had declined 7.2 percent this year through July. Claren Road’s smaller credit opportunities fund has lost 6.2 percent this year through mid-month after rising 1.9 percent this month.

Hedge funds on average have posted a 0.4 percent gain this year through Aug. 14, according to the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index.

Claren Road investors had until Sunday to put in request to pull money at the end of the quarter. After investing for one year, clients can pull their money every quarter after giving 45 days notice. Other investors who lock up their money initially for two years can redeem every six months.

The Houston Municipal Employees Pension System at its July 23 board meeting was scheduled to make a decision about its investment in a Claren Road fund, according to the meeting agenda.

Earlier Redemptions

Claren Road investors had asked to redeem $374 million last quarter, a person with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. The firm had faced redemptions of $1.9 billion at the end of last year when it tumbled 10.1 percent.

Before then, Claren Road had a history of avoiding large swings in its monthly and annual investment returns. The firm was founded in 2005 by former Citigroup Inc. credit traders Brian Riano, John Eckerson, Sean Fahey and Marino. Carlyle bought its Claren Road stake as part of a push into hedge funds. The fund is part of a Carlyle unit called global market strategies led by Mitch Petrick.

Carlyle, based in Washington, has met with little success in the hedge-fund industry. The managers of its commodities hedge fund, Vermillion Asset Management, departed after losses, a person with knowledge of the matter said last month. Its $4.5 billion Emerging Sovereign Group, whose assets have grown almost three-fold since it was acquired in 2011, slumped 22 percent last year in one of its funds, its third consecutive annual loss. The credit crisis forced Carlyle to liquidate its Blue Wave hedge fund in 2008.

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