Hedge Funds in India

Hedge Funds in India

The Benefits of Offering Hedge Funds in India

Hedge Funds in IndiaHere's a short article on how the Committee of Financial Sector Reforms in India might introduce hedge funds and why this would be a positive move for the Indian markets and fund industry as a whole.

The Draft Report of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms headed by Professor Raghuram Rajan was issued for comment in April 2008. Among the proposals that the high-level committee made was the introduction of domestic hedge funds. The committee feels that, “The presence of hedge funds would induce greater competitive pressure for other regulated fund management channels such as mutual funds.”

This week’s article discusses the benefits of introducing hedge funds in the Indian market. It shows how hedge funds could improve asset price efficiency. Besides, such funds, by virtue of their diverse investment styles, could provide investors an opportunity to enhance their risk-adjusted portfolio returns.

Of different genre

Suppose a long-only (mutual fund) manager and a hedge fund manager both have a negative view on SBI, a positive view on HDFC Bank and a neutral view on ITC.

Long-only active managers will buy ITC in the same weight as their benchmark index, may overweight HDFC Bank and may not take any exposure in SBI. There is a reason for such a strategy. Active
managers strive to beat their benchmark index. But they do not take too many active bets, lest their bets go wrong. Often, active funds tail the benchmark index with few active bets. Importantly, such managers cannot short-sell to take advantage of their negative view on a stock.

Hedge fund managers’ do not suffer from such constraint. In the above example, the hedge fund manager may overweight HDFC Bank, short-sell SBI and not take any exposure in ITC.

Better still, to neutralise any market risk, the hedge fund manager may buy HDFC Bank and short-sell SBI in such a way that the market risk in HDFC Bank is offset by short-selling SBI. Often, neutralising market risk on a portfolio would mean short-selling Nifty futures.

Exploiting price inefficiency

Hedge funds identify mispriced assets and exploit any price inefficiency. One way to do this is to employ statistical arbitrage.

Suppose a hedge fund manager finds that combination of one share of HDFC Bank and two short shares of SBI (1HDFC – 2SBI) has a stable statistical distribution. If the “spread” wanders far away from its mean, a hedge fund manager would set-up this strategy with a view that the “spread” will tighten. Such relative-value strategies can help arbitrate away asset price inefficiencies in a “normal” market. Read more...

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