EUROPE - The average investor expects the hedge fund industry to blossom this year, expanding by 18% to more than $2.3trn (€1.7trn), according to the Credit Suisse Hedge Fund Investor survey.

The survey - which includes the views of roughly 600 investor groups, including pension funds, consultants, family offices and funds of hedge funds - also showed a strong appetite for newly launched funds, with more than 60% of respondents being theoretically able to allocate to a new hedge fund whose managers have at least a three-year track record.

Respondents, however, maintained high standards of due diligence, with even more investors than last year insisting on aspects such as independent administrators.

Further, most noted the importance of risks such as crowding, sovereign risk and excessive beta.

Credit Suisse said the most popular strategy - event-driven funds - remained unchanged from a year ago, but it did note a recovery in appetite for equity long/short funds and commodity strategies.

Macro funds moved from second to fourth place, but were “still widely sought after”, particularly those with a differentiated approach.

Edgar Senior, managing director and global co-head of capital services at Credit Suisse in London, said: “One of the most important conclusions we have drawn is a lasting recovery in investor confidence and risk appetite, yet without any reduction in the newly heightened due diligence standards that we saw emerging last year.

“The consistency in views and appetite between last year and this year is notable, demonstrating an emerging and stable equilibrium between the different participants in the hedge fund industry.”

In other news, Denmark-based asset manager Sparinvest has acquired Atrium Asset Management for an undisclosed sum.

Atrium AM is the fund management business of Atrium Partners, a Danish financial advisory company.

Sparinvest Asset Management will now manage the Luxembourg-domiciled Atrium Value Partners SICAV-European Small Cap and the Denmark-domiciled Atrium Value Partner-Europa Small Cap funds, with total assets under management of around €55m.

Under the terms of the deal, fund managers Karsten Løngaard and Lisbeth Søgaard Nielsen will also join Sparinvest’s value equities team.

Sparinvest acquired EngsINVEST in December 2010, while in January 2011, US-based value investor Brandes Investment Partners agreed to launch jointly managed fixed income products later in the year.

Per Noesgaard, chief executive at Sparinvest, said his company had a very clear vision of where it wanted to be in five years time and how to get there.

“These moves are completely in line with our ambition of becoming a leading international provider of quality value-based investment products,” he said.

“To us, that means aiming for performance that ranks us consistently in the top third among peer funds and no style drift.”

Lastly, AllianceBernstein, has partnered with the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) as the exclusive sponsor of its Target Date Funds Specialist Industry Sector (SIS).

The partnership will provide pension scheme sponsors and trustees with access to the “most up-to-date thinking on a range of topical investment issues”, focusing on target date funds.