A hedge fund started by a pioneering female investor has lost more than half its assets in two years

  • Jamie Zimmerman is one of the few, and first, female investors to run a hedge fund. She started Litespeed Partners in 2000.
  • The fund has had a tough run of late, and now manages less than half of what it did two years ago.
  • Hedge funds running similar investment strategies have also struggled. Some have shut.

NEW YORK — A hedge fund started by a pioneering female investor has posted slight gains this year after suffering a steep drop in assets.

Jamie Zimmerman’s Litespeed Partners now manages about $US725 million, less than half of what the fund managed in October 2015 when it had around $US1.9 billion, according to a person familiar with the figures who requested anonymity because the information is private. The fund managed about $US3.24 billion at the start of 2015, according to a Reuters report from the time.

Litespeed, which makes bets on distressed companies and company events such as mergers and acquisitions, is not alone. Last year, investors pulled $US38 billion from event-driven funds — those that bet on company activity — and investors have yet to re-up, according to data from Hedge Fund Research.

Bigger hedge funds have also recently shut, notably Perry Capital and Eton Park, as have smaller peers, such as Chesapeake Partners.

Litespeed’s performance has been in line with competitors this year, meanwhile. The fund gained about 5.9% after fees through September this year, according to the person familiar. So-called event-driven funds also gained 5.9% over the same period, per data tracker HFR.

Litespeed gained +1.9% last year, and dropped -11.5% in 2015 and -5.31% in 2014, according to people familiar with the numbers. That’s compared to event-driven peers, which posted gains of +10.5% last year, -3.5% in 2015 and +1.08% in 2014, per HFR.

Zimmerman, who opened Litespeed in 2000 with $US4 million, is one of the few women to run a hedge fund business. Meanwhile, across the industry, only 3% of senior investment roles were held by women in 2012, according to trade publication CIO.

Zimmerman graduated from Amherst College in 1981 and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Michigan. She started her career as an attorney focusing on bankruptcy, where she learned to analyse to dissect the US bankruptcy code and creditors before switching into finance, according to a 2005 profile in the
Wall Street Journal.

She told the paper that her gender had not hampered her career.

“It’s irrelevant,” she said at the time. “It just wasn’t a factor in anything I did in my life.”

By and large, few women hedge fund managers exist. Reasons include a lack of recruitment efforts from disproportionately male execs to broken pipelines and networking opportunities.

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