Descartes Finance in Hong Kong is to launch four new offshore hedge funds, comprising three single strategy funds and a multi-strategy fund. The four funds, which are expected to begin trading on June 1, are part of a Cayman Islands-domiciled umbrella structure. The funds to be launched in June are a convertible hedging fund, a global macro fund, an equity long/short fund and a multi-strategy fund.

The multi-strategy fund, the Descartes Athena Fund (SPC), is an umbrella fund with a 'Segregated Portfolio Company' structure, and will invest in the single strategy funds.

"We will be launching two more single strategy funds, in 2004 and 2005 respectively," says Edgar Chuan, co-founder of Descartes. "We have a segregated portfolio company structure, so each fund is independent but with the umbrella fund able to invest in all the others," Chuan explains. A fixed income arbitrage fund will be launched in 2004 and then in 2005 a foreign exchange and index strategy fund is planned.

Descartes has already raised between $30 and $50 million, including money from institutional investors, he says and all sourced from Asia.

Descartes Finance was founded in 2001 by Edgar Chuan Wei-chen and James Chou Chuan-chen to specialise in providing alternative investment solutions to sophisticated investors in Asia. Chuan was previously a financial consultant at Merrill Lynch (Private Client) and Chou was marketing manager at High Sound Corp China.

Backing them is a team of investment professionals who have an average nine year's experience in the industry. The chief investment officer of Descartes is Eric Chuang. Prior to joining Descartes in 2003, he was with Citibank for 12 years, holding several positions in its various offices in Asia and was most recently general manager of Citibank Securities Taiwan.

The firm's chief analyst is Robin Lai, who previously was chief dealer at Sinopac Bank Taiwan. Before that, he has worked at Salomon Smith Barney Taipei, HSBC Taiwan and Citibank Taipei.

The firm's prime brokers are Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, with the administrator being Bank of Bermuda.