John Griffin told investors he's closing his $6 billion Blue Ridge Capital, ending a three-decade career in hedge funds as the eight-year bull market weighs on his industry.
"This can be a humbling business, and many times we were tested, especially on the short side, but we have remained committed to the long/short portfolio strategy that has been our founding philosophy since we launched over 21 years ago," Mr. Griffin wrote in a Dec. 15 letter announcing the shutdown.
Mr. Griffin was one of the hedge fund industry's original "Tiger cubs." He worked at famed investor Julian Robertson's Tiger Management for nine years and served as president before striking out on his own in 1996. He started Blue Ridge with $55 million, and over the next 13 years rose to prominence as one of the best-performing stock managers, posting 25% annualized returns, according to an investor.
As his firm's assets peaked at $9 billion at the end of 2013, Mr. Griffin hit an air pocket. His fund fell 9% the following year, in part from wrong-way bets against Chinese companies, and he failed to recoup those losses. The New York-based firm has averaged returns of 15.4% a year since inception, beating the S&P 500 index, according to the letter.
Long/short managers, especially those such as Mr. Griffin who tend to hold a significant number of short positions, have found it hard to make money in recent years in the face of persistently low interest rates and the rise of quantitative and passive investing. John Burbank, who started his Passport Capital in 2000, earlier this week closed his flagship fund, citing "unacceptable" losses.
Mr. Griffin told clients he expects to substantially complete the firm's wind-down in the first quarter of 2018. He said he plans to start "a new chapter," without elaborating on those plans.
Like his mentor Mr. Robertson, Mr. Griffin has helped develop other managers, spawning so-called Tiger grand cubs including Roberto Mignone, head of Bridger Management, and David Greenspan, who started Slate Path Capital in 2012.