Former Goldman Sachs Partner Said to Plan Macro Hedge Fund

Leland Lim, who retired as co-head of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s macro trading team in the Asia-Pacific region outside of Japan, plans to start his own Hong Kong-based hedge fund, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The new company aims to start an Asia-focused global macro hedge fund around mid-year, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The fund will trade mainly currency and interest-rate instruments, they said.

It joins other Asia-focused macro hedge funds that have started in the past year or are in the works to capture rising investment opportunities. The Eurekahedge Asia Macro Hedge Fund Index gained 9 percent last year, the largest annual gain in four years, and outperformed the 8 percent return by the index that tracks global hedge funds across all strategies.

“Asia-based macro hedge funds have a natural advantage in taking information gained from their front-row seats and turning that information into trade and investment ideas,”said Ed Rogers, chief executive officer of Tokyo-based Rogers Investment Advisors. “Asian economies remain the ones to watch as many transition from emerging markets to developed markets.”

‘Large Diversity’

Among others, Whiz Rock Global Macro Investment Fund is looking to increase assets to $150 million by March, from $50 million, Naoki Iwami, a former managing director at Millennium Capital Management in Tokyo who now runs Whiz Rock, said in November. Former HSBC Holdings Plc economist Geoff Barker plans to start a new Asian macro hedge fund in March with City Financial Investment Co., he said the same month.

“Asia offers a large diversity of instruments to express a macroeconomic view,” said Stephane Pizzo, managing partner of Singapore-based Lotus Peak Capital Pte.

A skilled manager will be able to benefit from opportunities including the Japanese quantitative easing; China’s liberalization and internationalization of its financial markets, and the controlled appreciation of its currency; and the various monetary and fiscal policies from governments in Southeast Asia and India, Pizzo added.

The HFRI Macro Index dropped 1.1 percent in January, hurt by declining emerging markets, and losses for trend-following funds and those that trade with computer models, Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research Inc. said in a statement dated Feb. 7.

Leaving Goldman

Lim left Goldman Sachs on Jan. 24, according to his licensing record with Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission. He decided to retire from Goldman Sachs after 17 years with the New York-based bank, according to an internal memo. Edward Naylor, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Goldman Sachs, confirmed today the content of the memo dated Jan. 21, declining to comment further.

Lim, 37, joined Goldman Sachs in New York in 1997 on its foreign-exchange options desk and moved to Asia in 1999 to work on such instruments in Hong Kong and Tokyo, according to the internal memo. He managed foreign exchange and interest-rate derivatives trading in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan before his appointment to the latest position in 2012, it added.

He was promoted to managing director in 2006 and made partner in 2010, according to the memo from the bank’s co-heads of sales and trading Isabelle Ealet and Pablo J. Salame.

‘Politicized Regulation’

Goldman Sachs named Hidehiro Imatsu to co-head Asia-Pacific macro trading, including interest-rate and exchange products, with Stuart Riley, according to a separate internal memo also dated Jan. 21. Imatsu was head of macro trading in Japan.

Lim’s departure was not related to regulatory investigations in possible rate-rigging at various banks, said the people. He will lead investments at his own company, said the people said, without naming the firm.

Traders have been leaving various banks to set up their own hedge funds amid tighter regulation, said Peter Douglas, principal of Singapore-based GFIA Pte.

“Because of increasingly politicized regulation, it makes sense for traders to establish non-banking pools of capital and continue to trade, but in a more flexible environment and sourced from third parties rather than their banks,” Douglas said.