The rise in commercial rents in Hong Kong is often characterised as being good news for the prosperity of Hong Kong. Try telling that to hedge fund managers who rented space in new buildings like IFC 2, and are now being presented with exorbitant monthly terms after their rent reversion.

But tapping into the hedge fund boom in Hong Kong, Edward Chin - a former Man Investments country manager and head of Asia for Refco Alternative Investments - is putting the final touches to a 1,500 square-foot MDE Hedge Fund Centre on Wyndham Street It is the former administration office of the Foreign Correspondents Club. ôThis office space will be kitted out for hedge fund trading needs and is big enough to accommodate four hedge funds,ö he says.

The first fund to set up shop at the CentreÆs premises in Wyndham Street looks likely to be a $20 billion private-equity fund from Montreal.

ôYou find new hedge fund people in their late twenties or early thirties who have put aside $3-5 million from having worked in securities houses and banks,ö says Chin. ôThen they combine that with money from friends and family and start their fund with assets under management of around $20 million. ItÆs tough going and only half of them survive more than three years.ö

ôI look at my operation as an incubator for hedge funds,ö he explains. ôNot a lot of start-ups want to pay $80-100 per square foot in Central if they donÆt know whether they will be successful. We would consider swapping equity for office space. The risk is mutual.ö

ChinÆs goal is to help these fledglings reduce start-up costs by providing cheaper, B-grade commercial space. The next step for Chin is a similarly styled Hedge Fund Centre around the corner around Hollywood Road, or one located in Singapore. Further down the road, he is considering doing this in other cities, such as Tokyo and Taipei.

ôI can help with capital introductions to high net worth individuals,ö says Chin. He says heÆs not trying to compete directly with prime brokersÆ capital introductions, as his principal contacts donÆt include institutional investors.

Chin was a derivatives trader at BMO Nesbitt Burns and TD Securities in Toronto before relocating back to Hong Kong in year 2000.