William Ackman, founder and CEO of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York

New hedge fund Clearfield Capital launched with $500 million

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) – Clearfield Capital Management, a new hedge fund which received a personal investment from billionaire investor William Ackman, began its investment operations this month with roughly $500 million, two people familiar with the fund said.

Founded by former Kingdon Capital executive Philip Hilal, New York-based Clearfield focuses on long/short equity and event-driven investments, continuing the multi-disciplinary approach he implemented at Kingdon.

“We are very impressed with him,” an institutional investor said. “Starting with $500 million these days is a very big deal.”

Clearfield is among this year’s handful of prominent launches that are capturing investor attention as big pension funds and other blue chip investors are looking to allocate more money to alternative strategies, especially to newer and smaller firms. These firms often deliver better returns than their larger, more established competitors, academic research shows.

The two sources, who requested anonymity because Clearfield’s investments are private, said this week the fund’s founding investors include a number of prominent money managers who want to diversify their personal portfolios by using managers with different strategies from their own. Broad backing from industry colleagues is rare in an industry known for its intense rivalry.

Clearfield’s investor base also includes a number of operating executives, whose industry viewpoints are expected to inform the firm’s investment research, the sources said.

The fund’s initial investors generally opted to commit capital for two to five years; the five-year, hard-lock share class was expanded to accommodate investor demand, one of the sources said.

Clearfield’s investment team includes three analysts, a chief financial officer, and an operations and business development associate. Hilal plans to add selectively to the fund’s investment and operations teams.

Gary Claar, co-founder and former co-portfolio manager at $12 billion hedge fund JANA Partners and Jacob Goldfield, a former chief investment officer at Soros Fund Management are the fund’s strategic advisers.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Chang)


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