(Bloomberg) -- Hedge fund liquidations in the first quarter jumped to the highest level in more than four years as the coronavirus pandemic triggered sharp losses across global markets.
About 304 funds shuttered in the first three months of the year, the most since the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a Hedge Fund Research Inc. report released Tuesday. That represents an increase of more than 50% from the 198 liquidations in the last quarter of 2019.
Meanwhile, about 84 hedge funds opened in the three-month period, the lowest quarterly estimate since the financial crisis, when startups totaled 56 in the fourth quarter of 2008. Closures have exceeded launches for seven consecutive quarters, according to HFR.
Hedge funds have faced a tough money-raising environment as investors revolted over high fees and lackluster returns. Now startups are dealing with the turmoil caused by lockdown restrictions and social distancing efforts designed to combat the Covid-19 crisis. But things may be turning around as institutional investors gear up for a return to choppy markets. A Credit Suisse Group AG report issued this week found that net demand for hedge funds was at its highest in at least five years going into the second half of 2020.
Managers starting hedge funds in the first quarter faced an “extremely challenging” environment because of a drop in investors’ risk tolerance, according to HFR President Kenneth Heinz. The outlook for launches in the second half should improve as markets adjust to higher volatility levels, he said in a statement.
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