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The founder of Amaranth Advisors appealed to investors Friday for patience, and he offered an apology for the huge losses the hedge fund racked up on natural gas bets.

"We feel bad about losing our money. We feel even worse about losing your money," Nicholas Maounis said during a conference call.

Maounis was the only company executive participating in the 20-minute call and didn't take any questions. In the coming weeks, Amaranth officials plan to schedule one-on-one meetings with investors to answer their questions.

The Greenwich, Conn., hedge fund won't close and is in it "for the long haul," Maounis said. He urged investors to be patient, and repeatedly expressed contrition for the losses.

Last week, Amaranth lost $4 billion when its natural-gas trades soured. Its holdings are down 65% for the month and 55% for the year. The fund began the year with $7.5 billion in assets under management and saw them soar to as much as $9 billion.

"We lost a lot of money and even more of yours," said Maounis.

Until last week, energy and commodity trading had been good for Amaranth. In 2005, the hedge fund earned $1.26 billion, and then $2.17 billion to August of this year. Still, Amaranth's "profits were not without volatility," and the fund took significant losses in May, when it reduced its energy holdings.

By Thursday, though, Amaranth had sold its energy portfolio to

J.P. Morgan Chase

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and Chicago hedge fund Citadel and was no longer planning to trade in energy.

Amaranth's spectacular losses follows on the July closure of MotherRock, a two-year-old hedge fund that lost half of its value because of its activities in the natural gas market. MotherRock, which once had $450 million in assets, bet that natural gas prices would fall at a time when they were surging.

Last week, MotherRock said investors would likely not get any of their money back.

What's unclear is whether the same fate ultimately will befall Amaranth's investors. Maounis said his fund had received "substantial redemption requests" and is currently evaluating them.

Among the Wall Street firms that have large stakes in Amaranth are

Morgan Stanley

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