NETHERLANDS - Three of the six directors of stockbroker Petercam Netherlands will leave the company to start their own hedge fund, they have announced.

Etienne Platte, director equity trading, Marc Langeveld, head of equity sales and Michael Kembel, director private banking have offered their resignation.

They have been ‘offered’ gardening leave instantly, which is, according to Petercam Bank’s CEO Bart Tishauser, “the usual procedure”.

Tishauser describes the loss of half of his team as “serious, but not insurmountable”.

“We‘ll lose some of our best people, but we have sufficient quality in-house to compensate for it” he told IPE. “However, we need to employ full sail initially.”

The Petercam CEO indicated that the separation is on an amicable basis. “In particular, in rising markets, we realise that there is a chance that people will leave us as a small stockbroker. I’m pleased anyway that none of the three is joining the competition,” he commented.

The €12bn Petercam is an institutional asset manager and adviser on equity investment and corporate finance.

Platte, Langeveld and Kembel will start their ‘long-short equity hedge fund’ Antaurus, together with senior analyst Arjan Sweere of Kempen & Co. Sweere left Petercam half a year ago, Platte told IPE.

“The partners, who have over 60 years of experience amongst them, will participate on an equal basis,” he added.

Initially, Antaurus will aim at wealthy private investors. “We will focus on the small and mid cap segment within the Benelux, and look for hidden value stocks in particular,” Platte said.

“We don’t want to grow over one billion, because the larger we are, the more difficult it will be to operate in small liquid equity.” Antaurus’ target for returns is between 12 and 15%.

Platte said he is expecting considerable developments on equity hedge funds in Europe. “Whereas 35% of all institutional assets in the US are invested in hedge funds, the figure for Europe is between 3 and 3.5%. There are just a handful of hedge funds in The Netherlands.”