Vinik Seeds Ex-Manager Iben’s Fund Firm With $20 Million

Jeffrey Vinik, the money manager who shut his hedge fund earlier this year after returns slumped, is providing $20 million in startup capital for an investment firm run by his former stock picker David Iben.

Vinik made a five-year, $5 million loan to Iben’s Tampa, Florida-based Kopernik Global Investors LLC and invested $15 million in two of its private funds, the advisory firm said in a U.S. regulatory filing approved in September. Vinik will keep the money in the funds until July 2015, according to the filing.

Vinik recruited Iben from Nuveen Investment Inc.’s Tradewinds unit in June 2012, only to announce 11 months later that he would shutter his fund to focus on Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, the parent of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning. More than half of Kopernik’s staff of 28 came from Iben’s global value group at Vinik Asset Management LP, said Paul Brodsky, a portfolio manager at the new firm.

“We think when we launch that we will get some of the following that David has had over his 32-year career,” said Brodsky, who recently folded the advisory firm he ran with Lee Quaintance, New York-based QB Asset Management Co., into Kopernik.

Iben was unavailable for comment and Vinik, who now runs a family office from Tampa, declined to comment. Brodsky said the new firm was named for 16th century astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus, who was born in Poland as Mikolaj Kopernik.

Three Strategies

Kopernik has about $29.5 million under management, including the $15 million invested by Vinik and more than $13 million contributed by employees, according to the Form ADV filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 23. The firm plans to manage separate accounts as well as registered mutual funds and private investment partnerships, the registration shows.

Iben will initially offer three strategies, including global all-cap equity, a long-only fund that scours markets for undervalued stocks of various sizes. The other strategies are unconstrained equity, which will bet against stocks that appear overvalued and invest in those deemed cheap, and real asset equity, which will focus on sectors such as energy, food products and natural resources, according to the SEC filing.

Before joining Vinik Asset management, Iben was the chief investment officer of Nuveen’s Tradewinds Global Investors LLC, where he oversaw a $2 billion global all cap fund and a $3.2 billion value opportunities fund.

Vinik, 54, a onetime manager of the Fidelity Magellan Fund, said he would shut down the hedge fund in May after its returns had fallen almost 5 percent since the previous July. The fund had delivered annualized returns of 17 percent from its inception in 1996.

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