Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ex-Credit Suisse Oil Head McKenna Starts Mastic Hedge Fund

Kieran McKenna, who traded oil for Credit Suisse AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co., started a hedge fund that will accept money from outside investors next month, according to Mastic Investment Advisory AG, his new company.

The Mastic Commodity Fund, based in Zug, Switzerland, will begin trading oil and energy products this month with partners’ capital, Mastic Investment said in an email. McKenna resigned from Credit Suisse as global head of oil in July to set up the firm. He declined to give details on the fund’s size or targets.

McKenna, 36, joins ex bankers from firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley who have set up hedge funds after the Volcker rule limited risk taking by banks following the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008.

“We have seen no let up in appetite from investors looking to back new ventures if you can present them with managers with a good pedigree and track record,” said Daniel Caplan, a managing director in London for Deutsche Bank AG’s unit that provides leverage to hedge funds and helps them raise money from investors. “That’s true across all asset classes.”

Money managers founded 578 new hedge funds in 2011 through June, the best six months for startups since the first half of 2007, according to data from Chicago based Hedge Fund Research Inc. that covers all types of hedge fund.

The Mastic fund will make “extensive use” of options and has a relative value biased strategy, according to the company’s email. “There are contrasting outlooks from the fundamental hydrocarbon supply and demand balance issues that remain unresolved,” McKenna said.

Brent-WTI Spread

Relative value investment strategies seek to profit by targeting price gaps between different commodities, or different grades of the same commodity. They can also seek to exploit differences between maturity dates for the same commodity.

West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark grade, rallied 18 percent last month as U.S. demand increased and inventories declined in Cushing, Oklahoma. The December contract traded at $94.33 a barrel at 12:14 p.m. in London.

The gap between WTI and costlier Brent, the standard for more than half of the world’s crude, reached a record $27.88 a barrel on Oct. 14 and was at $17.45 today. Cushing is the largest crude-trading and storage hub in the U.S.

McKenna’s partners in Mastic Investment are John Thompson and Erik Serrano Berntsen, who founded Energy Alpha Strategies Ltd., a London based, commodity focused investment firm. Berntsen is chief operating officer at Mastic Investment.

McKenna’s departure from Credit Suisse came after the Zurich based bank replaced an almost five year trading alliance with Glencore International AG, the world’s largest commodities trader, with a so called consulting agreement in January.

He joined Credit Suisse in 2008 from JPMorgan and became global head of oil and products for the alliance. He was also a senior oil trader at Citadel LLC in Chicago and London. McKenna started his career in 1997 at Goldman Sachs, where he traded North Sea crude and options, according to Mastic Investment.

Posted courtesy of Bloomberg BusinessWeek News.

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