IKOS Divorce Rattles Firm

Jul 27 2010 | 12:39pm ET

In December, IKOS Asset Management co-founder Martin Coward left the two-decade-old hedge fund he set up with his wife with “goodwill.” But that goodwill has been sorely tested as Coward’s divorce from his wife and partner, Elena Ambrosiadou, has grown nasty and possibly damaged their firm.

Ambrousiadou filed for divorce from Coward last April. But, according to The Wall Street Journal, the marriage was on the rocks for at least a year before then. And, according to several lawsuits, the dispute’s effect on IKOS has been devastating.

The firm’s assets under management fell by US$2 billion to US$1.35 billion earlier this year, although strong performances and inflows have since pushed them back to US$1.95 billion. The troubles started when Coward and Ambrosiadou, a Greek native, moved the business from London to Cyprus.

That move led husband and wife to lead increasingly separate lives, according to the Journal, with Coward taking frequent vacations. During one of them, Ambrosiadou took the opportunity to fire Coward’s 12-person London research team and one of the firm’s senior fund managers without telling her husband.

Those firings have led to a lawsuit for unlawful dismissal. It was also the “casus belli so far as the marriage was concerned,” according to a ruling earlier this month by a British High Court. Coward did not learn of the firings until three days later. Four months later, Ambrosiadou filed for divorce in Greece.

Not even Coward’s exit from the firm in December has calmed matters. Greek police were called in after Ambrosiadou claimed he had illegally used a private jet owned by the family trust to fly from France to Greece.

Coward took a commercial flight home. He is now considering launching a hedge fund of his own.

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