Former Matchpoint Co-Founder Debow Plans New Asia Hedge Fund

  • Asiya Interlink fund to start with about $100 million
  • Amount to include money pledged by Asiya and a U.S. endowment

Sean Debow plans to start a new hedge fund at Asiya Investments Hong Kong that bets on rising and falling stocks in the Asia-Pacific region, after leaving Matchpoint Investment Management Asia.

Asiya Interlink Asia-Pacific fund will start trading in November with about $100 million, said Christopher Johnson, chief operating officer of Asiya Investments, which is backed by the Kuwait Investment Authority. The amount includes money pledged by a U.S. east-coast university endowment, Asiya Investments and several other early investors, he added, declining to identify the investors or the endowment because of confidentiality agreements.

Asiya Interlink is among Asia-focused hedge funds that have raised capital in recent months, a sign that long-term investors remain interested in the region despite China’s economic slowdown and volatility in the emerging markets. Double Haven Capital (Hong Kong) last week announced it won a $111 million investment from a U.S. pension fund into an Asia-focused credit hedge fund.

"We believe the over-exuberance of retail investors in China has been addressed," Johnson said in an interview on Tuesday. "The margin lending that propelled the indexes to dizzying heights has been addressed. What remains is compelling valuations and a continuing China growth story.”

Matchpoint Founders

The outstanding balance of margin loans on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges has more than halved since a mid-June peak as punters unwound borrowings. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index has shed about 15 percent from an April peak, while the Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Index retreated more than 7 percent since the end of May, eroding this year’s gain to 3.1 percent.

Debow, a former Asia research director and regional business head of Los Angeles-based Ivory Investment Management, in 2009 co-founded Matchpoint with Raaj Shah, a former Och-Ziff Capital Management Group partner. Debow left Matchpoint last year, according to regulatory filings, and joined Asiya Investments earlier this month with several former Matchpoint colleagues, including senior lead analyst Jae Kim, Johnson said. Debow didn’t reply to a message seeking comment.

Fundamental Picks

The new Asiya Investments fund will use fundamental research to pick stocks and will focus on consumer goods, telecommunications, media, technology and Internet, health care and industrials, Johnson said. Debow had previously made nearly half of his returns from short-selling over-priced stocks, Johnson said. Shorting involves selling borrowed stocks whose prices are expected to decline.

Asiya Investments has about $1 billion under management in funds and separate accounts. It has two hedge funds that use computer models to pick Asian stocks and a long-only fund, Johnson said.

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