NEW YORK (HedgeWorld.com)–Europe-based fund of funds firm Gottex Fund Management has hired two top executives to build a new team in Boston and increase its presence in the United States.

Richard Leibovitch joined as senior managing director and deputy chief investment officer. He will share responsibility for the firm’s hedge fund investments with fellow deputy CIO J.P. Bailey and investment chief Peter Bennett, who work out of New York and London, respectively.

Mr. Leibovitch’s focus will be on equity managers but he will give back-up opinions on fixed-income funds, as well. He also was appointed head of North American business, responsible for sales and distribution in this part of the world. Gottex manages offshore vehicles, however, that are not available to American investors except certain tax-exempt institutions.

“We’ve evolved into a global firm,” he says. “We’re no longer a Swiss fund of funds.” Gottex has offices in Lausanne (Switzerland) and London as well as other European and offshore financial centers. There is a small operation in New York.

Fast Growth

Working with him at the Boston office is Dr. Kevin Maloney as managing director and head of U.S. research. Both were previously with Putnam Investments, the mutual fund group. Mr. Leibovitch was recently head of derivatives and global trading while Dr. Maloney led product design.

Mr. Leibovitch is no stranger to the Gottex investment team. About 10 years ago, before his Putnam tenure, he and Messrs. Bailey and Bennett worked at J.P. Morgan, where all three were traders. “We know each other well personally,” he said..

Gottex has experienced exceptionally fast growth in the past 12 months. This month total assets under management passed the US$1 billion mark, up from around US$200 million a year ago. Many large institutions and consultants require a fund of funds to have at least US$1 billion in assets before they will allocate to it.

The firm’s flagship fund invests with market neutral managers. Year to date as of September it has returned 12.3% on U.S. dollar class AA shares. This vehicle forms the basis of various structured notes , Previous HedgeWorld Story.

There is also an absolute return fund. Ideas for new funds are under consideration, including a conservative equity vehicle, an aggressive equity pool and a trading fund. But these are still on the drawing board, and no decision has been made.

CKurdas@HedgeWorld.com