GLOBAL - JPMorgan is the world's largest owner of hedge funds, with $34bn (€25.9bn) assets under management, according to Absolute Return magazine.

JPMorgan's asset management arm saw hedge fund assets surge 74% in 2006, largely as a result of its purchase of Highbridge Capital Management in the year before.

Although it increased assets by 48% to $32.53bn, Goldman Sachs Asset Management finally came second, after holding the number one position for all of 2006.

Bridgewater Associates comes in third place with $30.2bn asset under management, up 47%. DE Shaw Group holds fourth place with $26.3bn, up 40%, and Fallaron Capital comes in fifth with $26.2bn, up 59%.

The magazine estimates that hedge fund assets globally are worth about $1.8trn.

In total, the 20 largest hedge fund firms controlled close to a third of the global total.

The news comes as another poll by French business school, Edhec reports that fund of hedge funds yielded a solid return of 11.25% in 2006, compared to 6.8% the year before.

Senior Edhec researcher, Véronique Le Sourd noted: "The best performing strategy in 2006 was emerging markets, with a return of 18.85%, followed by event driven and distressed securities, with respective returns of 15.48% and 15.27%."