Horlick's Hedge Funds for the People ; Star Fund Manager Offers the 'Mass Wealthy' an Opportunity to Make 'Alternative' Investments in Private Equity. Tim Webb Reports

Article excerpt

Nicola Horlick, the high-profile City fund manager who hates being called "Superwoman", is ready for her next challenge: to bring the rewards of private equity to the masses.

This week, her firm Bramdean Asset Management and fellow fund manager Axa are set to publish the prospectus for the first fund of funds - allowing people to make "alternative" investments in hedge funds and private equity - to be listed on the main stock exchange in London.

The global fund, which will be worth up to [pound]250m, will allow ordinary people to benefit. Investors who stump up a minimum of [pound]1,000 can enter the fund, called Bramdean Alternatives Limited, which will also invest in "specialist" areas such as property, commodities and currencies.

Ms Horlick said: "There has never been a fund like this before. It's been difficult for the 'mass wealthy' to get access to these kinds of alternative investments. We are trying to democratise this new area which has been the preserve of the mega rich."

She will spend the next four weeks on investor roadshows to drum up institutional interest in the fund. The order book will be closed at the end of June, with shares in the fund due to start trading on 9 July.

Ms Horlick rose to prominence in 1997 when she famously tried to get herself reinstated as head of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management. She had been suspended when the fund manager was bought by Deutsche Bank, and she flew to Frankfurt - with a posse of journalists in tow - to argue her case with her new paymasters. She did not get her job back, so she moved to French bank Societe Generale, where she set up SG Asset Management.

Recent share returns have lagged behind the "alternative" investments Ms Horlick is now targeting. For example, the five-year cumulative return for hedge funds is 64 per cent, compared with 36 per cent for the S&P 500 index of blue-chip companies.

UK institutional investors have been slow to take advantage. …