Millennium Said to Add Commodities Teams, Cut Risk Arb Managers

Israel Englander’s Millennium Management LLC has been expanding its commodities staff by establishing investment teams for the strategy this year, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The $23.9 billion New York-based firm last week hired Matthew Zahler, adding to a series of additions in recent months that include Neil Smaldon, who joined as a money manager and was formerly a commodities strategist at Tudor Investment Corp., said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Millennium is building in an asset class where prices have dropped to a five-year low on mounting concern that slower economic growth will cool demand in China, the world’s top consumer of metals, grains and energy. The multistrategy firm, which has grown from $19 billion about a year ago, has 1,600 employees divided into more than 150 teams.

“Commodities have been a great diversifier to the broader markets,” said Jay Rogers, president of Irvine, California-based Alpha Strategies Investment Consulting Inc., which advises hedge-fund clients and managers. “Now that people are getting scared about the top of markets, it makes sense to build in something uncorrelated.”

Claudia Gray, a spokeswoman for Millennium with Brunswick Group LLC, declined to comment on the appointments, as did Zahler and Smaldon.

Additional Hires

Other hires this year include Jennifer Fan, who previously ran her own hedge-fund firm Arbalet Capital LLC, which closed last year, the person said. She didn’t return a telephone call for comment.

The firm also recruited Raj Sethi and Brian Zachman from SAC Capital Advisors LP, Steven A. Cohen’s former hedge-fund firm, where they focused on macroeconomic commodity investments, two people familiar with the matter said in April.

Capital at Millennium is allocated based on risk management and the performance and opportunity set of specific portfolio management teams.

The firm is also experiencing some departures. Money managers Martin Geminder and Lan Cai, who focus on risk-arbitrage investing, are leaving, according to another two people with knowledge of the matter. Geminder and Cai declined to comment.

Millennium International Ltd. rose 1.8 percent in September and 7.4 percent this year, according to a performance update, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. The fund has posted a 15 percent annualized return since inception in 1990. The firm was founded by Englander, known as Izzy, in 1989.

Englander was the sixth-highest-earning hedge fund manager in 2013, according to Institutional Investor’s Alpha’s Rich List, making $850 million.

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