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hedge fundsSINGAPORE: NewAlpha Asset Management, a Paris-based global hedge fund incubator, has invested in a bond fund managed by Korea Investment Corp's former chief investment officer amid a recent surge in interest in smaller Asian funds.

The NewAlpha investment is part of a strategic partnership between the Paris-based company and Singapore-based Blue Rice Investment Management, Blue Rice said in a statement.

Blue Rice did not say how much NewAlpha has invested, but the amount is expected to be in the region of $20 million.

Blue Rice's BRIM Asian Credit Fund, which now has close to $60 million in assets, is an absolute return, Asian credit-focused fund that invests primarily in US dollar-denominated Asian debt securities.

The firm has six investment professionals and is led by Guan Ong, who was CIO of Korea Investment Corp from 2006 to 2009. Ong, who holds a PhD from Britain's Imperial College was CEO and CIO of Prudential Asset Management in South Korea prior to joining the Korean sovereign wealth fund.

Other investors in the BRIM Asian Credit Fund, which was launched in December 2009, include Woori Absolute Partners, an affiliate of South Korea's Woori Financial .

Newly set up hedge funds in Asia have faced difficulty raising money as investors become more cautious about entrusting money to managers without a track record as independent operators.

But the mood is beginning to change with several established players either putting money in new hedge funds or setting up seed funds to invest in smaller funds.

Earlier this month, New York-based Pulse Capital Partners said it was arranging up to $50 million in initial capital from a private investor for an Asia-focused event-driven fund that it will launch with Hong Kong-based Ardon Capital Management.

Hong Kong's Samena Capital and Swiss boutique private bank and money manager Reyl & Cie SA last month said they planned to raise up to $250 million for a seed fund that will invest in hedge funds focusing on Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

NewAlpha, a unit of France's OFI Asset Management, provides institutional investors with access to alternative investments through private-equity style fund-of-funds.

Since its inception in 2003, NewAlpha has entered into 16 strategic partnerships and invested a cumulative $650 million with early stage managers.

Copyright Reuters, 2011

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