The Stretto Panther Fund is being launched in Singapore at the end of April. It is an Asia ex-Japan long/short fund and has an asset-raising target of $50 million within one year and $150 million to $200 million after two years.

Raymond Kong previously spent 13 years with mutual fund company American Century, the retail arm of Capital Management. From 1998 to 2001, he set up American CenturyÆs fund management and trading operation in Singapore. After that, back in New York, he held the post of global portfolio manager of emerging-market trading.

Stretto PantherÆs target returns are 15-20% on volatility in the low teens. Stretto will be targeting institutional investors. There will be no lock-ups, though there is a 1% fee if redemptions are made within the first year. Fees are 2% and 20% for annual management and performance, respectively.

Leverage of the fund will be maximum of 200% and net exposure is expected to be between -10% and +80%.

Morgan Stanley has been appointed prime broker and Citigroup as fund administrator, while Ernst & Young is the auditor and Deacons the law firm.

Stretto is a musical term calling for a temporary acceleration in tempo; a quick-fingering phrase that stuck in Raymond KongÆs mind during an earlier spell when he worked as a concert pianist. He trusts that the new fund earnings will also show a similar dose of accelerando, hopefully in preference to adagio.