Australian equities fund manager Bellwether Partners has ramped up its presence in the local share market with fund flows from private clients increasing six-fold in its long/short fund and its first mandates from institutional investors expected early 2008.

Bellwether founder and managing director Bruce Bell said commitments from private clients for its offshore hedge fund will take the fund from less than $10 million to around $67 million by June next year. The long/short strategy has run for two years, seeded by a private client. A third of the fund’s promised increase is from the same client who seeded it, and the rest is new offshore private investors. Bellwether plans to build the fund to $500 million, and is visiting hedge funds of funds in Zurich, Geneva and London in February. “There are very large amounts of money circling in the hedge fund world now,” Bell said. “It’s become much more mainstream.” The Melbourne-based manager expects to open another long/short fund to Australian investors in the first half of 2008. It will also close this to new investors when it reaches $500 million. Bell said it was the success of the offshore share fund that has given the company more confidence to open one to Australian investors. Meanwhile, Bellwether’s flagship fund, the long only Australian share fund has had promising interest from institutional investors. Currently only $10 million in size, he said each investment decision over the three year life of the fund can be demonstrated. He said this data has been reviewed and investors can see Bellwether is true to its ‘large caps only’ promise and not making its solid performance from “mucking around” in small or micro-cap stocks. Bellwether Offshore Share Fund has returned 20.67 per cent for its two year track record to October, and the Australian Share Fund has performed 6.6 per cent above the benchmark over three years to October, with a 33.45 per cent return before fees.

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