(Pictured: Rob Holroyd)
Rob Holroyd, a prominent hedge fund manager who launched his commodities strategies business in Australia in the late 1990s, has died suddenly after returning home to New Zealand for Christmas from his recent base in Zug, Switzerland. His firm, Commodity Strategies AG, was one of the casualties of the van Eyk Blueprint blow-up.
Holroyd’s funeral was held in Auckland last week, attended by well-known Australian and New Zealand fund managers and clients, as well as many friends and family. He had been, for a time, the manager of the biggest New Zealand-based alternatives firm – with about NZ$300 million under management – before he decamped to Switzerland with his family in 2010 to perform on the bigger stage. This did not work out.
The demise of van Eyk Research, his biggest client, which managed a number of funds under the Blueprint label that had Macquarie Bank as its responsible entity, coupled with difficult market conditions, pushed his firm to the brink of collapse in recent months.
Holroyd set up his first specialist commodities funds management firm in New Zealand in 1986 after previously running a commodities broking firm and a bullion trading and futures business. He moved to Australia in 1999 and set up Commodity Strategies Ltd (CSL) but commuted to New Zealand until 2010 when he decided that Europe presented greater opportunities in the difficult environment commodities managers were going through. He set up the current firm, Commodity Strategies AG (CSAG), in 2011, based in Zug. It is understood that funds under management continued to decline, with a A$60-70 million mandate from van Eyk Research’s Blueprint alternatives fund representing about a third of the total business as of June this year. Macquarie froze the Blueprint funds in September, after an alleged breach of mandate by another hedge fund manager, and van Eyk was subsequently placed in liquidation.
It is understood that Holroyd had been in negotiations with another manager to take over his client base following the van Eyk liquidation. It is now expected that CSAG will be wound up and the remaining funds returned to clients.
Richard Keary, another well-known Australian alternatives manager who set up the hedge fund division for the former Bankers Trust, has been working part-time for CSAG in Zug and London. Keary declined to comment on Holroyd’s death out of respect for his family.
– Greg Bright