• Hal Lehr's fund to open to outside investors in March
  • Bets on currencies and commodities helped fund outperform

Aithon Capital Management LP, a hedge fund backed by JPMorgan Asset Management Inc., returned almost 20 percent in its first year as bets on commodities and currencies helped it outperform peers, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The more than $100 million discretionary global macro fund, managed by founder Hal Lehr, plans to open to outside investors in March, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The fund started on Jan. 21, 2015 and its performance compares with a 5.55 percent decline in the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index.

An official at New York-based Aithon declined to comment on the returns.

Aithon Capital’s returns were driven mostly by bets on pricing differences between asset classes, such as commodities and currencies, according to the person. One of the fund’s best results came from going long precious metals against a short bet on oil and base metals, the person said. The fund also uses cross-asset investments, the person said, such as wagering on a commodity against a currency.

Investors in commodities were hurt by widespread declines last year, with the Bloomberg Commodity Index posting a 24.7 percent fall that took it to the lowest level since 1998. Among major commodities, West Texas Intermediate oil fell 38.8 percent in the year, copper dropped 24 percent and gold slid 10.4 percent.

Prior to starting Aithon, Lehr worked at Deutsche Bank AG, Soros Fund Management LLC and the Carlyle Group.

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