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Institutional investment: BBVA moves into hedge funds

Spanish bank forms a joint venture with alternatives specialist Vega to cater for institutional investors.

BBVA is moving into the hedge fund industry through a tie-up with Vega Asset Management, one of the best-known managers in the alternatives business, with about $11 billion in assets under management.

The two companies intend to launch an alternative investment company, Proxima Alfa Investments, by the summer. Vega will be separating its hedge fund incubator, VegaPlus, from its hedge fund business to provide the platform for the new company, in which it will hold a 49% stake. The incubator has 10 funds, with $2 billion in assets under management. It is expected that more funds will be added, with eventually a fund of hedge funds product being provided comprising funds from its own stable and some external ones.

BBVA will be investing a further $1 billion of its own money in the new company. It will be using Proxima as part of its offering to institutional investors. Although the new company is registered in Spain, BBVA will be marketing to foreign as well as Spanish investors. Jose Barreiro, head of BBVA’s global markets and corporate and investment banking group, says: “Hedge funds are a growth industry in Spain and elsewhere in Europe, and in the first few years will focus there and in the US where we have a broad customer base.”

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