Viking Global Investors
Fronting the offices of Viking Global Investors high above Park Avenue is a solid, 12-foot-wide wall of clear glass. Still, no matter how you position yourself, the inner workings of the hedge fund are invisible. No chance sightings of Andreas Halvorsen, 39, the chisel-featured Norwegian chief investment officer, or one of the other two partners, David Ott, 37, or Brian Olson, 35--the three former Tiger cubs who run the fund.
There's considerable buzz within the industry that Viking, cloaked in secrecy, is one of the hottest funds around. But sources say the most auspicious fact about the $2 billion fund is that it was up 89% last year after fees. That's killer performance in light of 2000's dismal stock market. Viking, a long-short equity fund that primarily invests in the U.S. and Europe, employs a "bottom-up" fundamental stock-picking strategy. It focuses on financials, telecommunications, media, technology, and consumer stocks. The fund's nine analysts meet with some 1,000 companies a year. "Their core strength is that they're fantastic business analysts. They can really determine good companies from bad," says an investor.
Viking's principals learned their stock-picking skills from Tiger Management Corp., where Halvorsen worked for seven years and was director of global equities his last three. Halvorsen, Ott, and Olson all left Tiger in early 1999, more than a year before the fund imploded. "They had pretty good timing," says a source. Each considered starting his own hedge fund until Halvorsen contacted them and suggested they try a team approach. Since Viking was launched in October, 1999, they have recruited 15 of their former Tiger colleagues. Their investors include "very sophisticated businesspeople who can provide insight in the areas in which they invest," says an insider.
By Marcia Vickers