F&C, Hedge Fund Partners Battle Over ‘Doomed’ Venture

Jun 22 2010 | 11:37am ET

Consider it an object lesson for traditional money managers who want to cash in on the cachet of hedge funds: F&C Asset Management and a pair of hedge fund managers are suing each other over the fund of hedge funds partnership they set up six years ago.

According to François Barthelemy and Anthony Culligan, F&C sought to kill their limited liability partnership when things began to go south after the collapse of Lehman brothers. The only problem was, Barthelemy and Culligan hold a combined 40% interest in the venture. But rather than buy them out, the two hedge fund managers say F&C “started to run the business down without even informing” them.

F&C disputes that claim, saying there was “no secret decision or strategy to close down the LLP,” merely a recognition that tough times called for tough measures.

The asset manager counters that Barthelemy and Culligan improperly exercised a series of put options last year, asking the court to invalidate the moves, the Financial Times reports.

Barthelemy and Culligan, who formerly worked at Flemings and Aida Capital, say F&C’s tough measures would have, in effect, “undermined the business altogether,” and that when they refused to go along, “F&C tried to bully the individual partners into accepting their will.”

On the stand in the London court room yesterday, a lawyer for the two men hammered away at Fernando Ribeiro, the F&C executive who served as chairman of the fund of funds LLP.

“There was no product to sell and you were not prepared to consider any of the other options” aside from shutting the partnership down, Leslie Kosmin asked Ribeiro. “It was doomed, wasn’t it?”

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