High-profile activist investor is closing his hedge fund Blue Harbour Group

23 Mar, 2020 13:07

Singularity Financial Hong Kong March 23, 2020 – Activist investor Clifton S. Robbins is closing his firm, the latest high-profile veteran to exit the hedge-fund business. His motivation appears to be different from his rivals, however.

Mr. Robbins, who manages $2 billion at Blue Harbour Group LP, informed clients of his decision on Feb. 28, Friday morning. Cliff Robbins says he began thinking about closing his activist hedge fund firm over Thanksgiving weekend.

But, it wasn’t until spending time with his family, including his octogenarian parents, in Florida during the Christmas holidays that he decided, along with his wife, that it was time for a big life change. The Wall Street Journal reported he planned to set up a family office.

Unlike other high-profile hedge fund managers, who in the past few years have shut down their firms after one or two lousy years of performance, Robbins is going out on top. Last year his fund was up 33 percent and has produced a 14.4 percent annualized gain since its inception, according to his letter to clients announcing his decision to shut down.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” said Robbins. “After 40 years I am looking forward to catching my breath.”

Robbins said he plans to spend most of this year unwinding his hedge fund and returning $2 billion of capital to investors. After that, Robbins said he will do “something in business” or “philanthropy.”

Robbins founded Blue Harbour in 2004, pursuing what he called “a private equity approach to the public markets.”

He considered himself a “friendly activist” because he mostly avoided boisterous, contentious public battles or proxy fights with companies he was prodding to boost shareholder value. Robbins was also early to integrate environmental, social, and governance criteria into his investment process, treating ESG issues with the same stature as financial metrics and strategic considerations, Robbins, told clients in his letter.