Hedge funds based in North America are providing a haven to investors grappling with rising U.S.-China tensions and a global economy stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 32% of allocators plan to increase investments to North America-based managers, compared with 18% at the start of the year, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. survey found. Most other regions, including Asia-Pacific, saw decreased interest.
“Covid has created a lot more investment opportunities,” said Michael Monforth, global head of capital advisory at JPMorgan. “In some respects there is a safe haven element to investors wanting to invest in the U.S., but it’s also being driven by the investment opportunity.”
Investors are betting on hedge funds headquartered in North America as the world deals with a pandemic that’s halted commerce and sparked turbulence across markets. Escalating Chinese-American tensions remain a concern as the two superpowers have clashed on issues ranging from trade to the early handling of the coronavirus.
Tapping into the demand are big-name hedge funds including D.E. Shaw & Co. and Seth Klarman’s Baupost Group, which have reopened or started new funds to take advantage of the market dislocations this year.
About 22% of investors said they expect to increase allocations to the Asia-Pacific region, versus 45% before the health crisis escalated, according to the JPMorgan survey. The bank queried 255 institutional investors representing more than $12 trillion in assets from June 16-22.
“Low rates, tight spreads and cheap beta had made U.S.-based investments boring for most hedge funds,” Monforth said. “Recent volatility, unprecedented stimuli and dislocations in asset prices within a reliable legal framework has made the U.S. more interesting.”
He said investors expect dislocations in asset prices and more distressed investments to come -- conditions that make the U.S. attractive because of a robust legal framework and deep market.
Allocations to distressed credit managers are poised to ramp up in preparation. The survey found that among strategies, distressed credit has the most appeal, with 50% of investors planning to boost their allocations, compared with 24% at the start of the year.
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