Omni backs ex-Barclays top trader to launch European hedge fund


(Reuters) - Omni Partners is preparing to launch a hedge fund to be managed by former head of European equity trading at Barclays Howard Spooner in December, as the London-based firm looks to diversify its product offerings to investors.

The equities hedge fund will bet on rising and falling share prices of large-cap stocks in developed Europe, the firm said in a statement on Friday, offering its fourth fund to investors.

The Omni European ELS under its chief investment officer Spooner is joined by Hugh Selby-Smith, a former Goldman Sachs and TT International executive as a portfolio manager.

The duo had been managing the strategy with internal capital of $25 million since January, the firm said, adding that they had generated 6 percent return so far this year.

European long/short equity hedge funds have struggled this year, having returned 0.3 percent through August, according to data from Eurekahedge, trailing a 4.4 percent rise in the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares during the period.

"There is still demand for European equity long/short funds that can demonstrate that they follow a repeatable process, have limited market correlation and deliver attractive risk adjusted returns, despite the fact that others operating in the space have not made money this year," Spooner said in an e-mail reply.

London-based Omni Partners manages about $830 million across a macro hedge fund, a global equity event-driven fund and its third strategy focused on the secured property lending market in the United Kingdom.