(Bloomberg) -- Balyasny Asset Management has quadrupled the amount of investments its Asia equities team can oversee, in part by hiring as investors turn to hedge funds that employ diverse strategies to weather increasingly turbulent markets.
The Chicago-based company increased the total by both doubling its investment staff in the region in the past year and boosting the amount of money they are allowed to manage, said Archana Parekh, head of equities for Asia excluding Japan, without giving figures.
Multistrategy “pod shops” tend to put limits on how much each of their portfolio managers can win or lose per annum, based on equity volatility. Three new managers are set to join Balyasny’s Asia team in the first quarter of next year, further expanding trading capacity.
“Globally, Balyasny has been pursuing a strategy of growth and diversification, and Asia has been a key part of that strategy,” Parekh said in a phone interview. “We have added portfolio managers and analysts across strategies, scaled up our investment portfolios.”
The likes of Balyasny and Millennium Management have been stepping up hires as assets under management swell. Fifty-five multi-manager firms have nearly tripled their assets since 2017, while the rest of the global industry stagnated, according to a September note from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. prime brokers. The insatiable appetite for talent to sustain performance prompted Izzy Englander’s nearly $61 billion Millennium to enter discussions for a partnership with smaller rival Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, although no deal was reached.
Dmitry Balyasny’s namesake firm saw assets jump by nearly a quarter over the past year to $21 billion, according to information posted on its website. Out of about 180 employees in the Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo offices, more than 130 are equities, macro and commodities investment professionals.
Last year, it named Parekh, a former senior portfolio manager at Millennium, to spearhead its regional equities business. She was the most senior female executive at a global hedge fund pod shop in Asia until Millennium picked former Citigroup Inc. regional executive Julia Raiskin to be its Asia-Pacific chief executive officer earlier this year. Parekh still oversees a portfolio of global technology and financial stocks, in addition to her managerial responsibilities.
Among the Balyasny new hires is Russell King, Millennium’s former chief information officer in the region, who will take the role of Asia chief technology officer. It earlier recruited Eddie Lo, formerly of Citadel, to be regional chief operating officer. Federico Chavarria in October relocated from Australia to Singapore to head Asia business development, helping scout out hires.
On the investment side, Mansi Singhal, most recently at Millennium, will join in the first quarter as a portfolio manager focused on Asia industrial stocks, said a spokesman for Balyasny. It also hired Sojiro Konishi from Torq Capital Management (HK) Ltd. as a Japan portfolio manager, and Akshay Bhor, ex-Citadel, as an Asia consumer-focused portfolio manager under the firm’s Anthem program, which trains fledgling portfolio managers. Hu Wentao joined the Anthem program from Torq earlier.
Apart from equities, Balyasny has been expanding macro and commodities trading in the region. Jeff Kim, previously of Capula Investment Management, joined its macro team this year. It is expected to expand computer-driven stock and macro trading in Asia next. Macro portfolio managers typically trade across stock, bond, currency and commodity markets, trying to profit from broad themes.
The expansion contrasts with belt-tightening at small regional peers. China-focused hedge fund firms, in particular, are bracing for a second consecutive year of widespread losses and reduced investor appetite. Pod shops like Balyasny and Millennium are able to pass on some, if not all, expenses to investors, effectively giving them more money to reward star performers.
To accommodate its growing ranks, Balyasny more than doubled its Singapore office space in September, adding another 9,000 square feet. Maximum seating capacity nearly quadrupled to 130. It made a similar move in Hong Kong in 2022, adding 11,000 square feet of space even as the city was just emerging from years of stringent Covid restrictions that prompted an exodus of talent. Its office there can now accommodate 185 people, up from 50.
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