Bennelong Group, the diversified investment and property company, has gained a wholesale ASIC licence and will offer an Australian long/short equity fund to the market.

The long/short fund has been run on Bennelong money since 2002 by Richard Fish, previously a fund manager at National Australia Asset Management before it became defunct. After undergoing some process changes in 2004, including a boosting of its leverage to five times the equity, the fund has delivered returns in excess of 40 per cent for the last two years, Fish said. A pooled trust version of the fund was in the process of being registered and would be available next year, Fish said, adding that the high level of leverage meant family offices and endowments were the most likely customers. White Outsourcing has been selected as administrator and UBS as prime broker for the fund, which runds between 25 and 40 paired trades at any one time. Bennelong Group funds management executive, Phil Henty, said a wholesale product based on the group’s extensive internal property portfolio, run by James Wilton, was also a possibility.

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