GLOBAL - Asset management houses are rushing to cater to European pension fund demand for alternative investments, with the launch of several new funds and services.

Stockholm-based Informed Portfolio Management (IPM) and New York-based hedge fund provider Global Advisors have this week jointly launched what it describes as a "multi-strategy commodity product" targeted at the institutional market.

The fund, delivered as either as a managed account or within a pooled fund, invests long or short positions in commodity futures and spreads, and applies "fundamentally-based market views with volatility, carry and behavioural finance factors" to deliver alpha, according to IPM.

At the same time, Dexia Asset Management has expanded its alternatives range with the launch of Dexia Fund Commodities, a US dollar-denominated swaps offering, invested as a basket of commodity futures listed on the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index Light Energy Total Return Index.

And UK-based multi-manager Bramdean Asset Management, head by CEO Nicola Horlick, has also announced plans to launch a fund of funds, investing in globally-diversified private equity, hedge funds and specialty asset classes.

The fund will have a London-listed IPO in July and, perhaps more importantly, is said to have been created following a year's analysis of return dilution to ensure the fund does not suffer where it holds assets committed to private equity but are not yet "called".
RMF, a division of Man Group, will manage Bramdean's hedge fund allocation while some monies have already been committed to three private equity funds.

These alternative investment fund launches all come ahead of the introduction of a European Union directive on November 1, which will allow pension funds and other investors to invest in commodity derivatives.

Jonas Rinné, CEO and co-founder of IPM, said many European pension funds have been "hindered" from investing in commodity strategies until now.

 "We feel there is a rapidly growing demand for these kind of strategies from pension funds and other long-term investors seeking superior returns and low correlation to other alpha strategies," said Rinné.

"The deregulation of commodity derivatives for European institutional investors later this year is likely to boost interest even further."

Similarly, SG Asset Management - also co-founded Bramdean's Horlick in 1997 - signed a deal with Morningstar yesterday to give its institutional clients access to independent information on the hedge funds sector.

Under the arrangement, Morningstar will present a range of data, tools, and research as well as hedge fund ratings and indices from a database of approximately 8,000 hedge funds.

The research and information service has been developing a hedge fund rating methodology, similar to its Morningstar Rating service on mutual funds, with launch expected later this summer.