Platt's BlueCrest Sells Stake in Braga's Systematica to AMG

  • Systematica's assets surpassed BlueCrest's last month
  • AMG also buys stakes in Abax and Ivory Investment Management

Leda Braga. Photographer: Heidi Gutman/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Michael Platt’s BlueCrest Capital Management is selling most of its stake in a computer-trading hedge fund run by former employee Leda Braga to Affiliated Managers Group Inc. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Management of Braga’s Systematica Investments will retain most of their firm’s equity and direct daily operations after the transaction, AMG said Sunday in a statement without disclosing the size of the stake. BlueCrest had a 49 percent stake, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, which means it will be left with less than 25 percent. The person asked to not be identified because the information is private. AMG’s holding will be valued at $300 million to $350 million, another person said.

The deal further reduces Systematica’s ties to BlueCrest. Braga’s venture spun out of Platt’s firm in January, and recently she surpassed the assets of her former employer, overseeing $8.8 billion as of Oct. 1, compared with BlueCrest’s $7.9 billion. Her BlueTrend fund returned 5.9 percent in the first nine months of the year, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

Braga, 49, who has a doctorate in engineering, met Platt while working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He left the bank to start BlueCrest in 2000 and she joined him the following year. BlueCrest, which was one of Europe’s three biggest hedge funds in the aftermath of the financial crisis, has suffered from billions of dollars in withdrawals after lackluster returns, Braga’s spinout and concerns that an employee-only fund may pose a conflict of interest with investors.

Platt’s biggest fund, AllBlue, invests in Systematica’s BlueTrend fund. AllBlue gained 2.9 percent this year through October, beating the 1 percent advance in the Bloomberg Global Aggregate Hedge Fund Index.

Helping Development

Declan Ryan, a spokesman for Geneva-based Systematica, declined a request to interview Braga and wouldn’t comment beyond the statement. Ed Orlebar, a spokesman for BlueCrest declined to comment.

AMG, run by Chief Executive Officer Sean Healey, has bought into investment firms including BlueMountain Capital Management, ValueAct Capital and AQR Capital Management. An alum of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., he’s said the idea is to take a stake in a top performing firm and share its investment fees, without getting in the way of independent-minded managers. For some owners, the benefit is that they can get cash for the companies they’ve built.

He told the Wall Street Journal that the Systematica purchase followed a dinner meeting with Platt at a private club in London in the spring. A key recommendation came from BlueMountain Capital Management CEO Andrew Feldstein, who also drew early support from BlueCrest, the newspaper cited Braga as saying. Working with AMG will help her make management decisions, such as setting rewards for staff, to encourage growth and cultivate future leadership, she told the paper.

“AMG has a strong track record of helping such businesses continue to grow and develop further and we have every confidence that Systematica will greatly benefit from their expertise and support,” Platt said in the statement.

AMG had $619 billion in assets at the end of September. The firm, based in Beverly, Massachusetts, said Sunday that it also agreed to buy equity stakes in Abax Investments, a $5.4 billion investment manager with holdings including South African equities and fixed income products, and Ivory Investment Management.

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