First ‘International’ Hedge Fund Debuts In Israel

Jan 5 2010 | 11:48am ET

Israel is now home to its first global hedge fund, thanks to a pair of immigrants from the world’s great hedge fund centers.

Ezra Gardner and Etan Silver founded Omnium Capital Management in Tel Aviv about three months ago. While the fund, which has no relation to the similiarly-named Citadel Investment Group hedge fund administration business, is technically the third hedge fund in Israel, it is the first that does not focus on local investors.

As befits its international scope, Omnium is domiciled in the Cayman Islands with an affiliate registered in Delaware. In fact, it is most limited in its home country, where regulations currently allow it to accept only 35 investors. By contrast, it can take on an unlimited number of U.S.-based investors.

As of now, Omnium is managing less than US$100 million, Eilam Efrat, the firm’s business development chief, told FINalternatives. But the firm aims to raise as much as US$750 million for the new fund, which focuses on global equities markets, with 80% of its assets in international stocks. The remainder is primarily invested in risk macro strategies, especially currencies and foreign exchange hedging.

Gardner came to Israel from New York, where the Chicago native worked at UBS, first managing a stock portfolio and then as head of the Swiss bank’s equity propriety trading group. Silver comes from London via Zurich. In his native U.K., he worked as an analyst for hedge fund The Active Value Fund before joining Coopers & Lybrand’s management buyouts unit. Silver then moved to Switzerland to manage a global macro strategy.

Both believe that theirs is only the first of what could be a wave of global hedge funds based in Tel Aviv. Efrat adds that being based in the country offers a “competitive cost advantage of research.” And both Gardner and Silver have put their money where their mouths are, investing “all of their liquid net worth” in the fund, Efrat said.

Omnium currently boasts a staff of seven, including the founders, that is as international as its ambitions. In addition to the American Gardner and British Silver, their office features two Israelis, a Swiss and an Italian.

Omnium charges 2% for management and 20% for performance, with a high-water mark. There is a $500,000 minimum investment requirement.

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