Astenbeck Loses 3.8%, First Loss For Manager In 14 Years

Feb 10 2012 | 2:50am ET

One of the longest streaks of positive performance on Wall Street came to an end last year, with Astenbeck Capital Management's first-ever annual loss.

Astenbeck, which is run alongside the much older and more venerable Phibro commodities trading desk by Andrew Hall, lost 3.8% last year, Reuters reports. Hall has managed money for outside investors only since 2007 and launched Astenbeck in 2010 to take over those operations, but at Phibro, he had posted positive gains every year since 1997.

Astenbeck, which manages about $5 billion, was whipsawed by the market volatility this year. The hedge fund rose 18% through April, but lost much of those gains during early May's oil rout. By the end of August, it was down more than 10%, only to recover and then some. Another swoon, 18% in September, left it down 5%, but Stephen Chazen, CEO of Phibro parent Occidental Petroleum, said that by October Hall was back at even, if not better.

In the wake of his first loss in recent memory, Hall has retooled his top staff somewhat. Deputy Malcolm McAvity retired from the firm last month—he said last year's loss had nothing to do with his exit at 61 after 26 years—and Hall hired John Petti as co-chief oil trader, alongside the boss himself, and Christian Harris as head of agricultural and non-energy commodity trading.

Both Petti and Harris joined last year from Sempra Energy, although Petti worked at Phibro from 1986 through 2002.


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