For super funds and their advisers

Roberts family office shutters active strategy

Andrew Roberts, the billionaire former major shareholder in the Multiplex property group, appears to be retiring parts of his interest in funds management.

RF Capital has shuttered its hedge fund strategy, known as the Empirica business, resulting in a dozen positions being made redundant..

RF Capital, the Roberts family funds management firm, had been on an aggressive growth path for at least a year. The firm hired several prominent industry folk, took office space in Governor Philip Tower in Sydney, to match its presence in Dubai and London.

The Empirica business was wound up following the departure of the CIO, David Walsh,. This is despite the fact that JANA Investment Advisers had given RF Capital a rare rating. JANA actually doesn’t call its approval a “rating”, but that’s pretty much what it is.

It is understood, RF Capital has handed back the money to investors. Andrew Roberts’ property company, CorVal, though, is unaffected by the funds management business’s troubles. It appears Andrew is going back to his knitting.

RF Capital continues to operate, providing various property-related funds management services, such as REITs management and credit-related funds and property financing.

The Multiplex property construction business was started by Andrew’s father, John, and was acquired by the Canadian firm Brookfield for $1.2 billion in 2007. Brother Tim and sister Denby shared in the proceeds. John, the patriarch, died in 2006, at age 72.

It is understood that RF Capital had about $200 million under management in the discontinued strategy, which is a lot for an Australian hedge fund manager.

It is also understood that the main reason for the firm’s dilemma was a disagreement between Roberts and Walsh over a long-term equity incentives program. With Walsh’s departure, Roberts felt new capital would be difficult for Empirica to attract.

NOTE: an earlier version of this report incorrectly said that CEO George Kostas and head of distribution Dean Winterton had also left the firm. This was incorrect.

– G.B.

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