March 31, 2015 / 1:46 PM / 5 years ago

Exclusive - Ex-Lansdowne partner Kirk to start own hedge fund in mid-2015: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - Stephen Kirk, a former partner at hedge fund manager Lansdowne Partners, is preparing to start his own fund this summer, four sources familiar with the matter said.

Kirk, 45, who worked for a decade at Lansdowne, one of Europe’s biggest hedge fund firms, is setting up Campden Square Capital in London, one of the sources said.

The fund manager, who officially left Lansdowne in December, was part of a team that managed the Lansdowne Global Financials Fund. The fund has produced an annualised rate of return of 10.4 percent since launch in 2004, according to data seen by Reuters.

The launch comes following a year when hedge funds in Europe shut down at the fastest-ever pace as rising costs, weak performance and a slowdown in the pace of new investment lead some embattled founders to bail out.

Investors pulled a net $13 billion out of European hedge funds in the second half of last year, having invested a net $35 billion in the first half and $64 billion in 2013, according to data from industry tracker Eurekahedge.

The trend has meant that only the top ranking fund managers are able to launch and get investors’ backing.

While plans for Kirk’s launch fund are still in development, two of the sources said he may already have commitments of more than $200 million, making it one of the larger fund launches in the region for 2015.

The fund will invest in both emerging and developed markets and focus on the financial services sector, the sources said.

Lansdowne Partners manages about $18 billion in assets and roughly $600 million in the its global financials sector fund.

The firm was among hedge funds that had bets in 2008 against British lenders such as Northern Rock, Barclays (BARC.L) and HBOS, the group which was later that year taken over by Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L).

Other high profile new fund launches expected this year include that of former Brevan Howard star trader Chris Rokos, who is preparing to launch a macro hedge fund, and former global head of foreign exchange at Citigroup, Anil Prasad, who has set up Silver Ridge Asset Management in London.

An email and call to Kirk remained unanswered.

Additional reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Steve Slater and Greg Mahlich

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