Machines Lead Hedge Fund Traders in Brexit Chaos, Braga Wins

  • Lynx Asset Management posted 5.1 percent gain on Friday
  • George Soros said he was ‘long’ sterling before vote

As more details emerged on how hedge funds fared following Britain’s surprise decision to leave the European Union, computer-driven hedge funds led the winners. Human traders appeared to have limited losses by reducing risk.

Lynx Asset Management, which uses mathematical models to decide when and which securities to buy and sell, posted a 5.1 percent gain on Friday in one of its funds, according to its website. Capital Fund Management, a $7 billion firm in Paris, gained 4.2 percent that day in its Discus fund, while Systematica Investments, the $10.2 billion fund run by Leda Braga, gained 1.35 percent in its main BlueTrend fund, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Trillions were wiped from global equity values and the pound slumped after the Brexit victory, with the U.K. stripped of its top credit grade by S&P Global Ratings. Hedge funds overall lost 1.1 percent on Friday, according to the HFRX Global Hedge Fund Index. In a sign traders had prepared for the event, options-derived measurements of market stress fell Monday despite a second day of weakening stocks.

“We are entering a new regime of higher volatility where prices are vulnerable to sharp reversals and breakout of new trends,” said Nigol Koulajian, founder and chief investment officer of Quest Partners, a $650 million quantitative hedge fund. “Years of aggressive Central Bank policies suppressed volatility across markets and this is now changing as macro and political risk begin to rise.”

Quest, based in New York, gained 1.6 percent on Friday and 3.6 percent on Monday in its main fund, AlphaQuest Original Fund, a person familiar with the matter said.

Click here for a quick round-up of the latest news on Brexit.

Quantitative Investment Management, a computer-driven firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia, gained 3.6 percent on Friday and 12 percent this month before fees in an equity strategy that manages about $500 million, a person with knowledge of its returns said. The performance adds to a gain of almost 30 percent after fees in the first five months of this year.

The firm’s main futures strategy, which manages about $2.5 billion, also made money on Friday, bringing gross returns for June to 4.2 percent. Before this month, it had gained 7.7 percent, net of fees, in 2016.

Man Group Plc, the world’s largest publicly traded hedge-fund firm, reported a 1.3 percent gain in AHL Diversified Programme and 0.9 percent rise in AHL Alpha Programme. Its AHL Evolution Programme lost 0.5 percent, while the AHL Dimension Programme declined 0.7 percent, according to the firm’s website.

Other computer-driven funds that profited include Winton Capital Management in London, whose founder David Harding gave 3.5 million pounds ($4.6 million) to the Remain campaign.

Officials for the hedge funds declined to comment on performance. Many funds will update investors on their June performance this week and next.

Macro Funds

George Soros, the billionaire who gained fame by successfully wagering against the pound in 1992, said he was betting on the currency leading up to the vote. In the days before, Soros had warned that sterling could slump more than 20 percent against the dollar as voters were grossly underestimating the true cost of the U.K. quitting the EU.

Soros made money on other investments that were designed to profit from falling markets, a spokesman said Monday. His Soros Fund Management took a short position in Deutsche Bank AG of about 7 million shares Friday as bank stocks tumbled.

Soros built his reputation as a macro investor, a strategy that seeks to profit from economic events and trends by trading everything from currencies to commodities. Macro funds that made money on the U.K. vote include Graticule Asset Management, run by Adam Levinson, people with knowledge of the firms said.

Macro hedge funds had a low level of risk on before the decision, according to a survey last week by research firm Drobny Global Advisors LP. Such funds are likely to have posted performance ranging from losses of 2.5 percent to gains of 0.5 percent in the aftermath of the vote, Philippe Ferreira, head of research at Lyxor Asset Management, said in a report.

Nonetheless, a macro hedge fund run by H2O Asset Management slumped 14.4 percent on Friday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The H2O Vivace fund had managed about 209 million euros ($232 million) at the end of May, according to its website.

Stone Milliner Asset Management, the macro fund run by Jens-Peter Stein and Kornelius Klobucar, lost 0.2 percent in the Class A shares, Series I version of its fund this month through Friday, according to an investor update. It has lost 1.2 percent this year.

‘Surprising Turn’

Discovery Capital Management LLC, the macro fund run by Robert Citrone, posted a 0.5 percent gain for the month in its Global Opportunity Fund through Friday and a loss of 2.5 percent for the year, according to an investor update. The fund said the highest conviction short wagers in its portfolio are in the U.K. and European equity markets.

“With a Remain vote, we had believed risk assets in general would have had a sharp rally over the next 3-4 weeks, from which a meaningful correction would have unfolded,” the South Norwalk, Connecticut-based firm said. “This surprising turn of events has accelerated our roadmap that we had for the August-October time frame.”

Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, an advocate of a British exit, posted a 21 percent gain over Friday and Monday in his main fund, according to an e-mail to investors. Odey had conducted a private poll ahead of the decision showing the vote was much closer than financial markets expected.

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