Business Irish

Saturday 17 November 2018

Garrett's hedge fund suspends investor withdrawals

Nick Webb

FORMER Taoiseach Garrett FitzGerald's hedge fund the Greater Europe Fund has suspended investor withdrawals from its €200m pool as global stockmarkets continue to tumble.

FitzGerald is a director of the Greater Europe fund, a hedge fund, which last year spent €35m buying a 20 per cent stake in Russia's largest saucy knickers firm Wild Orchid.

"All net asset value calculations, redemption requests and issuance of Participating Shares in the Company have been suspended until further notice," the fund told investors two weeks ago. "The directors have determined that a suspension of net asset value calculations and dealings is desirable in the interests of the members."

The fund has also cancelled an EGM scheduled for late October. Wermuth, the fund managers, declined to comment. Two months ago, the Greater Europe Fund announced that it was raising money from investors in a special subscription opportunity "to allow investors to take advantage of the discounted prices likely to be found on the Russian market".

The minimum investment level for the fund is $250,000, according to company documents.

The Greater Europe Fund and associated ventures, operated by German fund manager Wermuth, had planned to invest a further €80m in buying stakes in two Russian supermarket chains in the Urals.

However, the global carnage on stockmarkets saw Russian equities hit harder than most, with markets down nearly 60 per cent since May. The latest report for the fund shows that at the end of August its value had fallen almost 27 per cent since January.

FitzGerald, who led Ireland through the last recession in the 1980s, is also on the board of the €180m Greater Europe Deep Value Fund and its sister fund.

Apart from its stake in the raunchy Wild Orchid lingerie chain, the Greater Europe Fund has also invested in Russian newspaper distribution, grain and debt collection businesses.

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