12.12.2011
By Terry Flanagan

ADIA Amplifies Hedge Funds

World’s largest sovereign wealth fund appoints top-dog hedge fund manager.

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), with a reported 650 billion plus assets under management has recently announced the appointment of Benjamin Weston as global head of alternative investments. Weston will be responsible for developing strategy within the firm’s alternatives allocations, and report to Khalifa Almheiri, in the Alternative Investments Department.

“Weston’s extensive and varied experience across the alternative investments industry will help us to further develop our capabilities and breadth of expertise and capabilities in this important area,” noted Almheiri.

Founded in 1976, the ADIA is said to be the largest sovereign wealth (SWF) fund in the world due to its reported excess oil revenue, which is estimated to be as much as $1 trillion, according to Euromoney.

Such institutional investors are often coined sophisticated and well-versed in alternative investments, such as private equity and real estate. Yet, the 2008 financial crisis tarnished the reputation of hedge funds and the ADIA slashed its hedge fund investments by half that year, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

Currently, 36% of SWFs invest in hedge funds, and a nearly equal amount do not (37%), according to research provider, Preqin’s 2011 SWF Report. The Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region holds the highest allocation with hedge funds, at 38%.

Weston is not entirely new to the SWF scene. Most recently, he served as chief executive of Helvetica Wealth Management Partners, an asset manager partially controlled by the State of Qatar.

Prior, since 2005, he was chief executive of Merrill Lynch Alternative Investments overseeing $26 billion in assets under management across platforms that served clients worldwide.

Weston, moreover, has his roots grounded at Credit Suisse, where he converted a number of business units to hedge funds He also subsequently, he created his own firm to incubate emerging hedge-fund managers, according to The HedgeFund Journal.

ADIA manages a substantial global investment portfolio, which is highly diversified across more than two-dozen asset classes and sub-categories, including quoted equities, fixed income, real estate, private equity, alternatives and infrastructure.

Weston could not be reached for comment.

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