Salt aims to stimulate taste for Asian hedge funds

SkyBridge's glitzy signature Salt cap-intro event lands in Singapore this week, giving Asia's hedge fund industry a chance to shake up its strait-laced image.
Salt aims to stimulate taste for Asian hedge funds

The Asian hedge fund industry has been accused of many things, such as being an underperformer and having high market correlation.

Among the less grievous contentions is that it’s perhaps less exciting than its US counterpart, which has multi-billion dollar strategies run by a cast of colourful and outspoken characters who make headlines for extravagant, criminal or bizarre actions.

The allegation of ennui might be rectified somewhat with the inaugural SkyBridge Alternatives Conference (Salt) event in Singapore this week, which will attempt to enliven investor tastes to Asia’s hedge funds. It kicks off tomorrow.

Set at the Marina Bay Sands, Salt Singapore is designed to be a glitzy and outsized capital introduction event that will bring together investors and hedge fund managers from around the globe, with an emphasis on regional players.

It is modelled on the annual Salt Las Vegas conference – the largest US hedge fund event which drew about 2,000 people in May. Organiser SkyBridge, the New York-based fund-of-hedge-fund manager, intends to make Salt Singapore an annual event that would hold equal gravity in Asia as it does in the US.

The two Salts share a casino backdrop – doing little to dispel the notion among some that hedge funds are little more than gambling vehicles – and big-name speakers. Former US vice-president Al Gore and ex-UK prime minister Tony Blair are slated to attend, along with several veteran Asian hedge fund managers, including Dymon’s Danny Yong and Joe Zhou of Ortus.

Salt Singapore’s distinctly Asian flavour extends to its investor list, with expected attendance understood to include representatives from Australian superannuation funds and sovereign wealth funds from China, Korea and Singapore.

Singapore, which has made no secret of its desire to be Asia’s hedge fund hub, is understood to have thrown its support behind Salt. Temasek and the Government Investment Corporation are expected to be represented, along with offshoots Seatown, a hedge fund, and Fullerton, which invests in hedge funds.

The heavy investor presence is the main draw for hedge fund managers, although a few of the region’s smaller strategies have told AsianInvestor they found the price to attend Salt a bit too dear.

Coincidentally, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch is holding a capital introduction event in Hong Kong for its hedge fund clients that started yesterday and continues today, while Deutsche Bank will follow suit with an event next week. The close timing would seemingly be convenient for capturing the flow of global investors who are in the region for Salt.

AsianInvestor, which has been sharpening its baccarat skills recently, will be reporting on the daily activities from Salt Singapore this week, so stay tuned.

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