Ex-M.Stanley, Lehman execs launch hedge fund to bet on Asia M&A

Hong Kong-based Ardon Maroon Fund Management, run by former Wall Street bank executives, has launched an Asia-focused hedge fund with seed capital from a European family office, a company document showed, aiming to profit from events such as mergers and restructurings.

The launch comes as Asian funds that focus on mergers and activities such as spin-offs or bankruptcies, also called event-driven funds, have outperformed so far in 2012, rising 5 percent on average against the 3.7 percent gain overall for Asian hedge funds, data from industry tracker Eurekahedge showed.

Frank Dominick, formerly of Morgan Stanley , and Charles Woo, who worked at Lehman Brothers, have started trading with $26.5 million, according to the document which was seen by Reuters. They have hired Mirza Rahman as chief operating officer.

Rahman earlier held the COO role at Artradis, which was once Singapore's biggest hedge fund with peak assets of $4.9 billion but wound up in 2011.

Maroon Capital Asia, the investment vehicle of European family office Maroon, has provided seed capital worth $25 million to the fund and working capital to support the business. Some former investors, former employers and new investors have made additional commitments, the document showed.

James O'Hanlon, a former managing director at Bank of America Corp in Japan, has been hired by Ardon as a portfolio manager, a source with knowledge of the matter said. The firm has seven employees in all.

The Ardon Asia Fund will invest primarily in Hong Kong, China, Korea, Australia, Singapore, and Japan and takes opportunistic bets in India, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Event-driven funds trade in stocks, bonds, convertibles and other types of securities. Announced mergers and acquisitions deals in Asia-Pacific ex-Japan for the third quarter of 2012 amounted to around $136 billion, down about 8 percent from the same quarter of the previous year, according to preliminary data from Thomson Reuters.

Ardon had previously joined hands with New York-based Pulse Capital Partners to launch the fund in July last year with Pulse expected to arrange up to $50 million in initial capital. It was not immediately clear what happened to that plan.

Woo declined to comment.

(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)