Atticus Capital, the transatlantic hedge fund co-chaired by Nathaniel Rothschild, is handing back $3bn to its investors and shutting down two of its three funds.
The business, known in the UK for its activist investment campaigns to stop Barclays from buying ABN Amro and Deutsche Börse from buying the London Stock Exchange, lost money last year and has underperformed its peers, prompting its founder, Timothy Barakett, to "reassess" his future.
"My decision is solely a personal one," he told investors in a letter yesterday. "After 15 years of being singularly focused on building and managing Atticus, I believe it is time to reassess my future. I intend to spend more time with my family, pursue my philanthropic interests and establish a family office to manage my own capital and charitable foundation."
The $1.2bn European fund, run out of London by David Slager, an Oxford University contemporary of Mr Rothschild, will continue to operate, but the flagship Atticus Global fund, which lost 25 per cent of its value last year and is down again in 2009, will close.
Mr Barakett turned down the chance to play professional ice hockey in order to go to business school and set up Atticus in New York in 1995, aged 26. Mr Rothschild, a scion of the famous British banking dynasty, came on board within a year and has used his extensive contacts to raise money. At its peak in 2007, Atticus had almost $20bn under management.