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Hong Kong's Ortus readies FX fund for mid-March launch

[LONDON] Hong Kong-based Ortus Capital Management is preparing to launch a new fund in mid-March to try to win back investors who left the US$1 billion hedge fund company after deep losses in its main fund in 2012 and 2013.

Ortus, run by former Lehman Brothers proprietary trader Joe Zhou, one of the best-known names in the Asian fund industry, has seen its assets drop from about US$3 billion in 2012.

The new Ko-Zhou Fundamental FX Fund will use quantitative analysis to bet on 28 global currencies, including those of the leading 10 economies as well Asia and Latin America, according to a letter to investors seen by Reuters.

Ortus did not disclose start-up capital but said the internally run fund returned 15.4 per cent last year, nearly four times the gains in the Eurekahedge Macro Hedge Fund Index.

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The launch comes at a torrid time for many currency hedge funds and follows losses for some of the world's best-known macro funds, such as Harness, Fortress and COMAC Capital in January when Swiss franc rose sharply.

"Currencies reflect the relative strength and weakness of different countries, and as the global fundamental and monetary conditions diverge, we believe the fund is uniquely positioned to benefit from these opportunities," Mr Zhou told investors in the letter.

Ortus's main fund largely avoided the move in the Swiss franc when the Swiss National Bank's surprise decision to remove a cap on the franc sent the currency soaring 40 per cent against the euro. The fund was down 0.22 per cent through mid-January, another letter to investors showed.

The main fund lost more than 17 per cent in both 2012 and 2013 but gained 7.4 per cent last year, recording its best annual performance since 2010.