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The Hedge Fund Report: Bitten by the Activist Bug

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of occasional columns on hedge fund news, trends and gossip by Emma Trincal, TheStreet.com's hedge fund reporter.

Fall is approaching, and with the new season comes some notable hedge fund launches.

The highest-profile debuts continue to be in strategies that employ shareholder activism. Bob Chapman, the well-known activist who took a sabbatical last year, is readying a fund for launch in January. Another is the soon-to-be launch is RLR Partners, a new activist vehicle based in New York, headed by Robert Rosen, according to industry officials.

With Carl Icahn's run at Time Warner (TWX - Get Report) grabbing headlines and Ed Lampert's work at Sears Holdings (SHLD - Get Report) the stuff of legend, activism is enjoying a golden age. One thing driving the enthusiasm is the large amounts of cash that many companies are carrying on their balance sheets. The sums are tempting to managers dreaming of stock buybacks and other shareholder-friendly moves. The strategy's proliferation causes a snowball effect, too: the more activists there are, they more power they can wield as groups.

Who You Know

When new funds aren't notable for their strategies, they are notable for who leads them. The press is printing to-do lists for investors on how to avoid being in the next Bayou fund. One way is to give your money to someone whose track record and reputation are well established.

Such is the case when two ex-Perry Capital managers leave the firm to create their own shop. William Feil and Richard Crosby, two former equity managers at multibillion-dollar hedge fund Perry, are prepping HomeField Capital, an event-driven fund, according to an industry executive. Feil and Crosby left Perry earlier this year, and the launch could be sometime next month.

At Perry, Feil was a managing director covering the insurance sector, while Crosby was the head trader. Together, they were managing a $1.3 billion pool of assets focusing on equity restructuring, according to a source.

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