Former Ziff Brothers Asia Head Said to Plan Own Hedge Fund

Feb 19, 2014 12:45 am ET

(Updates with comments from recruiter in fourth paragraph.)

Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Gregard Heje, former Asia head of Ziff Brothers Investments LLC, plans to start his own Hong Kong- based hedge fund that bets on stocks as early as the second quarter, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The family office that oversees the Ziff family’s publishing fortune will be an anchor investor in Heje’s Kontiki Capital Management (HK) Ltd., said one of the people who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Heje joins a list of alumni of well-known international companies who have set up some of Asia’s largest hedge-fund startups since the global financial crisis in 2008. Among them is Carl Huttenlocher, the former regional head of Highbridge Capital Management LLC, whose Myriad Opportunities Master Fund has grown to almost $2.4 billion since December 2011 inception.

“Managers from the international companies tend to manage larger books and are exposed to investment and operational processes that have been refined over many years,” said Will Tan, a Singapore-based recruiter with Principle Partners Pte. “This gives investors comfort.”

Most of Ziff Brothers’ former Hong Kong-based employees will join Kontiki, one of the people said. The firm will be staffed by a team of 12 people. The equity long-short manager will pick stocks based on company fundamentals, the person added.

Norway Native

Investors in a Deutsche Bank AG survey conducted in December ranked India and Asia excluding Japan, among the top five-most difficult regions to allocate money to hedge funds.

Heje, a native of Norway, joined Ziff Brothers in London in 2005, said the person. He moved to Hong Kong more than four years ago to open and lead Ziff Brothers’ office there.

Ziff Brothers closed its offices in Hong Kong and Switzerland by the end of last year as the result of an internal reorganization, said the person.

Michael Freitag, a spokesman for the Ziff family with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher in New York, declined to comment.

Backing Kontiki may be an efficient way for Ziff Brothers to benefit from a talented manager in the region without getting involved in the day-to-day management of a fund, Tan said.

“Clearly, they will be nicely rewarded if the team at Kontiki continues to do well and assets under management grow,” he said.

Other hedge-fund managers who have received the backing of Ziff Brothers include Daniel Och. He started Och-Ziff Capital Management LLC in 1994, managing money solely for the Ziffs for five years before opening his fund to outside investors in 1999. Och-Ziff’s assets grew to $41.3 billion by Feb. 1.

London-based trade journal Hedge Fund Intelligence first reported Heje’s fund plan on Feb. 17.

--Editors: Iain McDonald, Tomoko Yamazaki