The queen of “hedge funds” refutes any abandonment of Geneva
Leda Braga will be splitting her time with London. Meet this rare figure of high finance.
Rumors of his departure quickly took on an air of debacle. Because this time she is the most influential woman in the world of “hedge funds”, these elite “traders” installed on their own and whose value is measured in the number of billions entrusted to them by banks and wealthy customers. Leda Braga in person is preparing to leave the city and transfer to London some of the 43 Geneva employees of its company Systematica Investments, the financial site announced on Tuesday Finews.
Caught on the phone between two planes, the person gives a different version of the facts. This woman of discreet elegance, credited with a fortune of 400 million in the latest ranking of the magazine Bilan, admits “considering dividing her time between Geneva and London”. For personal reasons but also “in order to strengthen our management team in London, an option already discussed with our investors”. If his move to London could take place “in the next two years”, on the other hand “nothing has been done” and “in any case, this would in no way affect our Geneva activities”, hastens to clarify this figure. unknown to Geneva finance.
“Most of our investment activity is done here”
Leda Braga is also sweeping away any plans to close its offices located a stone’s throw from the Manor department store: their lease has just been renewed and “Geneva, which brings together a large part of the trading and research teams, is a key center of our activities. “. And if the legal headquarters of his company is registered in Jersey, “most of our investment activity is done here,” insists his boss.
Smaller than that at the end of the lake, the London offices of this SME orchestrating the investment of 7.6 billion dollars bring together mainly support teams – employees of so-called “middle” or “back office” services. The founder of Systematica refutes any transfer of part of her Geneva employees. “We have stable, solid teams here who are delighted to be living in Geneva,” she insists.
The breach opened by Brevan Howard
Insurance that momentarily appeases fears of a new major defection in a financial center which was once dreamed of as the home port of so-called “alternative” funds. It was at the beginning of the decade and, in the United Kingdom, the fiscal screwdriver decided by Gordon Brown had sounded the hour of the exodus for the mercenaries of the City. Geneva had been keeping their eyes on them for years. “What matters, it is especially the repercussions via the taxation of these natural persons”, justified David Hiler in 2008, then great treasurer of the canton.
Migration has since come to a halt. And even reversed. Billionaire Alan Howard – one of the popes of the financial markets, then greeted with great fanfare with his company Brevan Howard – recently relocated to London. Also left, Farringdon Capital Management. Party, Passport Capital. Also left for London two years ago, Camille Hayek, founder of Dynamic Capital – another of these “quants” skimming the Stock Exchange with the help of computers.
A former BlueCrest diva
Leda Brega arrived in Geneva in 2009 with BlueCrest, the company of Michael Platt, another star of this so-called “alternative” finance. Doctorate in engineering in hand, this expert in thermodynamics had started by teaching at Imperial College in London; before joining the mathematicians of the “quants” teams of the JP Morgan bank in 2000. She met the Briton there to join, a year later, BlueCrest, the company he was in the process of setting up.
“It is unimaginable that Geneva will disappear from the hedge fund scene”
The success of his placements will allow Leda Braga to obtain, fourteen years later. its independence within a BlueCrest which became Geneva. Its teams were brought together in 2015 within the Systematica subsidiary. Their art? Trend following, a technique consisting in scanning financial markets using powerful computers to detect trends… then harvest them.
Michael Platt has since closed his small business and sold his stake in Systematica – the subsidiary of Leda Brega – to the American investment group Affiliated Managers. The thirty or so Blue Crest employees still present in Geneva are now responsible for managing the personal fortune of their boss, who has become a billionaire.
When Brexit doesn’t push back, it attracts
What about this Brexit that is shaking the City? This exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union hardly seems to dissuade the hedge fund mercenaries from leaving Geneva to return to London or Jersey. “The managers of hedge funds have always domiciled their funds in tax havens – or in Luxembourg, in order to give them a European passport – the situation therefore does not really change for them”, explains a former alternative manager. “On the contrary, the depreciation of the pound sterling makes a London establishment even more attractive for these companies which receive their revenues in dollars or euros”, continues this wise observer of the scene of Geneva “hedge funds”.
Leda Braga, however, does not believe in the end of Lake Geneva’s role on the “hedge fund” scene. In his eyes, “it is unimaginable that Geneva would disappear from the hedge fund scene – the city remains, with Zurich, the natural destination for them on the Continent.”
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