March 4, 2021

DealBook: Soros to Close His Fund to Outsiders

George Soros, the Hungarian-born billionaire financier.Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesGeorge Soros, the billionaire financier.

George Soros, the famed investor who broke the Bank of England and came to represent the swashbuckling style of hedge fund managers and then their entry into the world of global affairs, has decided to return money to outside investors in his hedge fund.

Mr. Soros is the latest hedge fund magnate to forgo managing the money of outsiders in favor of his own, though the move is more symbolic than substantive. Of the roughly $26 billion the fund manages, less than $1 billion belongs to outside investors.

The decision comes as the Obama administration has been taking steps to bring the secretive hedge fund industry into the regulatory fold. Soros Fund Management will become a so-called family office, defined as an entity managing an individual family’s money. The move will enable it to avoid impending hedge fund regulations like registration, according to a letter the fund sent to investors on Monday.

“An unfortunate consequence of these new circumstances is that we will no longer be able to manage assets for anyone other than a family client as defined under the regulations,” according to the letter from Jonathan and Robert Soros, co-chairman of the funds. “As a result, S.F.M, will ask Quantum’s board to return the relatively small amount of nonqualifying capital to outside investors before the registration deadline, most likely at year end.”

The fund, which has existed in many iterations in its more than 40-year history, has returned about 20 percent a year on average, according to a person familiar with the matter. This year, the fund is down 6 percent, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was private.

When it transitions into a family office, the operation, which now has more than 200 employees and 100 investment professionals, will continue to employ some 100 people. In the letter to investors, the firm also said that Keith Anderson, chief investment officer at Soros since 2008, would be leaving to seek other opportunities.

Forbes magazine has pegged Mr. Soros’s net worth at $14.5 billion this year. But the relatively small amount of outside money in the fund suggests that the majority of the $25 billion remaining belongs to Mr. Soros — an indication that his net worth could be much higher than previously estimated.

Mr. Soros’s funds have been closed to outsiders since 2000, when Stanley Druckenmiller, his former chief investment officer, left the firm to start Duquesne Capital Management. But last year, Mr. Druckenmiller himself decided to close his fund to outside investors and continue managing his own substantial wealth.

The decision came as Mr. Druckenmiller, considered among the best investors in the industry, sought to escape the burden of managing outside money.

Since then, two other prominent managers have decided to hand back money to outside investors and go it alone, including Chris Shumway and the activist investor Carl C. Icahn.

News of Mr. Soros’s decision was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

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