Bold swoops help Odey pull back lost ground

The City financier Crispin Odey recorded a 24 per cent return in his flagship hedge fund last year, powered by daring investments in companies such as Barclays and BSkyB.

The Odey European fund saw its assets grow to $1.8bn (£1.1bn) during the first 10 months of the year, according to new data, making it the second-best-performing hedge fund in Europe and the fifth best in the world.

The strong performance contrasts with the 20.3 per cent drop the fund recorded in 2011 when a number of Mr Odey's investments backfired. These included Barclays, whose shares fell 33 per cent in 2011 but rose 49 per cent last year despite being embroiled in the Libor-rigging scandal.

Other investments to serve the fund well in 2012 included the retailer Sports Direct, where Mr Odey backed a multi-million pound bonus for the company's founder Mike Ashley, labelling him a "genius".

Mr Odey and his wife Nichola Pease are estimated to be worth £455m, according to the last Sunday Times Rich List. He took home £9.4m in pay last year. In October, he increased his holding in troubled rival Man Group to 5 per cent.

The new figures from Bloomberg named the United States-based Metacapital Management as the world's best-performing hedge fund after it grew 38 per cent by betting on mortgages.

Odey hit the headlines last year when he submitted plans for a £120,000 chicken house in the grounds of his estate in the Forest of Dean.

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