Marshall Wace plans to open Abu Dhabi office

Marshall Wace plans to open Abu Dhabi office

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Marshall Wace plans to open an office in Abu Dhabi in the coming months, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be the latest hedge fund manager to establish a presence in the United Arab Emirates. 

The move is designed to help the group be closer to the Middle Eastern investor base — an important source of capital — and to be able to better compete for talent, the people said.

The Gulf states are marketing themselves as financial centres with attractive regulatory and tax regimes as well as a growing pool of talent from which to hire.

Marshall Wace, which manages about $65bn in assets, would follow hedge funds including Chris Hohn’s TCI and macro fund Brevan Howard in opening an office in Abu Dhabi. Brevan Howard now runs more money from Abu Dhabi than it does from either London or New York.

Marshall Wace declined to comment.

Other funds such as Izzy Englander’s Millennium, Steve Cohen’s Point72 and quant investing giant AQR have picked Dubai to establish a presence in the region. Both cities benefit from their geographical position, straddling the European and Asian trading days.

Hedge fund managers have been expanding their presence in the Middle East in an attempt to win local business and forge ties with sovereign wealth funds in the region. The lure of low taxes has also attracted them to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The majority of them are London or New York-based funds opening subsidiaries.

The pandemic helped Dubai and Abu Dhabi position themselves as attractive alternatives to London, New York and Hong Kong. Hedge fund managers said they experienced an increase in relocation inquiries during government-mandated lockdowns in Europe and the US, reflecting how Dubai’s Covid restrictions were less harsh. In addition, Abu Dhabi has been trying to make itself a hub for blockchain technology.

Since Paul Marshall and Ian Wace founded Marshall Wace in 1997, the hedge fund has carved out a position as Europe’s answer to US industry giants Citadel and Millennium.

Its assets under management have mushroomed to a record $65bn, defying a trend that has seen many of the region’s equities hedge funds under pressure. 

Founder Marshall’s Eureka fund, which accounts for about a third of the firm’s assets, is up around 8 per cent this year, according to investors.

The remaining two-thirds of its assets are run in systematic strategies that use computer algorithms. About a third of its roughly 575 employees work in technology-related roles and the firm spends tens of millions of dollars a year on tech.