Hedge fund to stake out public terrain?
Fortress Investment Group considers first-of-its-kind IPO this fall that could value company from $5B to $7B, newspaper reports.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Fortess Investment Group, a hedge fund with $24.3 billion under management, is considering going where no U.S. hedge fund has gone before - public.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, The New York Times reported that Fortress is considering an initial public offering this fall that could value the company from $5 billion to $7 billion.
It's an unusual prospect for the fast-growing hedge fund industry, which prides itself on being a highly secretive community of funds that enjoys fairly limited regulation by the federal government. That's because these private investment pools of capital are only available to wealthy clients.
Of course, there are some banks like JPMorgan (Charts) that have a multibillion-dollar hedge fund business. But it's unusual, and that's why a Fortress IPO could make a splash on Wall Street among those eager to get into the hedge fund space.
If Fortress goes public, the hedge fund would allow investors to profit from its stream of investment advisory fees and incentive compensation rather than the funds it manages. And that's an innovative approach that could pave the way for other hedge funds to launch their own IPOs - a move that would further break down the walls of secrecy that surround the industry.
There are positive and negative aspects to a possible public offering of a hedge fund. On the plus side, hedge funds that face concerns over succession once the founders and principals of a fund choose to move on can rest easy by creating a more permanent institution, the Times reported.
But one downside for hedge funds is that public companies are heavily regulated and require significant disclosure - something private hedge funds can avoid.
And there are concerns over creating a structure for a public hedge fund in which investors get a good return but managers continue to make enough money to provide an incentive for them to perform.
Fortress declined to comment, according to the Times.
But even if it is mulling the possibility, the timing may not be right.
The market was volatile over the summer and may not be so accommodating currently for an offering. And bankers will have to take on the unprecedented task of creating a valuation for a hedge fund.
But it's a sign that the hedge fund industry is quickly evolving as assets have grown 3,000 percent since 1990 and the number of hedge funds have jumped to 9,000 funds managing $1.2 billion in capital, the Times said.