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The Hedge Fund Report: Bitten by the Activist Bug

Rosenfeld, who is also fighting on a different front against Computer Horizons (CHRZ), has had a busy summer. While Rosenfeld opposes the merger of Computer Horizons with Analysts International (ANLY), at Geac it is simply the possibility of a bad marriage that bothers him.

Defending his company and its current management, Charles S. Jones, president and CEO of Geac, says, "Rosenfeld says he and his colleagues need to be on the Geac board because he is worried that Geac will pay too much for acquisitions, yet he has no factual basis for that concern." If anything, adds Jones, Geac paid a very good price when it purchased Comshare, its last acquisition, for 0.66 times revenue, a multiple well below comparable transactions at the time.

Rosenfeld's reply is that while Comshare was a "good acquisition," the acquisition of California-based Extensity was not. "They're looking for an acquisition and they have admited that they have a problem finding an acquisition at a good price," he says.

Crescendo disclosed a 5% stake in Geac last month. Rosenfeld filed a proxy demand for board seats for himself and one of his men, Gerry Smith. The battle got complicated a few days later when Rosenfeld dropped Smith from his team, noting an affiliation with Updata Partners, a venture capital firm, that would have represented a theretofore unnoticed conflict of interest. Trouble is, Updata denied having any affiliation with Smith. So Geac jumped on the opportunity to accuse Rosenfeld of "misrepresentation."

Amid all the drama, Geac's stock remain a decent performer. Since August 2003, Jones notes, when the bulk of the current management team joined the company, the stock is up 134%. At $10 a share, it's up 34% year to date.

Advancing Hordes

Whatever the popularity of various strategies, hedge funds continue to draw oodles of money, and its proponents say the trend has just begun. The industry's assets -- $1 trillion, roughly -- will hit $6 trillion by 2015, predicts George Van, president of Van Hedge Fund Advisors International. Van's schedule contemplates $2 trillion in assets within four years and $4 trillion in eight years.

Skeptics may think he's crazy but Van has some credibility. No one believed him when he said that hedge fund assets would hit $1 trillion by 2005, and they did. Capacity will expand because demand will expand, he says. One interesting argument, according to his study, is the impact on growth of the upcoming hedge funds regulation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Van expects a proliferation of public securities that track or behave like hedge funds. As a result, the size and the liquidity of the market will increase. Perhaps the SEC is on the side of hedge funds for once.

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