AsianInvestor attended Morgan Stanley's Shanghai capital-introductions conference from 2006 to 2008, but it was cancelled in 2009. Christened by this correspondent as the 'hedge-fund debutante ball', it was quite an extravaganza, as managers who were soliciting for capital sought investors sporting deep pockets.
This year it's back on and will take place in the last week of May. Morgan Stanley expects to have a broad mix of investors by geography (meaning Asian and international investors) and type. There will be more family offices, pensions, endowments and foundations compared to a 60% weighting towards funds of hedge funds three years ago.
"There is a lot of competition for capital," says Richard Webb, Asia head of equity financing products (EFP) distribution. "That number includes the global guys who have launched an Asian product. They are competing against the platforms and established players, most of whom are open again. And the second-generational guys who have come out of the big multi-strats. In this environment, it is more challenging than in previous years for boutique start-ups to gain critical mass."
The firm is hoping Hong Kong will be the birthplace of one of tomorrow's giant hedge funds. "Hong Kong could be the incubator for one of the world's next great hedge-fund institutions," says Ed Sisterson, head of Asian EFP. "Not everything is going to be driven from the US. However, it won't be easy, and I don't expect this to happen in 2010."
The conference will showcase managers, all of whom are expanding their Asian presence or product. Young and old local hedge-fund managers and an increasing number of global multi-strategy execs. The selection process is secret, but performance comes into the equation, as does having an Asian footprint and bias. If you are approaching closed status, then you're unlikely to receive an invitation, but then almost no-one is closed.
Elsewhere in Asia, UBS has a well-established capital-introductions conference in Singapore. Goldman Sachs has one in Tokyo, which is highly significant and confidential, although we can't be more specific than that, other than to say that it is really important. Hedge-fund mythology has it that hedge-fund execs speaking at the Goldman conference are jinxed for their next year, but since their identities are secret, that cannot be proven or disproven.