Viking Hedge Fund to Return $8 Billion to Investors

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Viking Global Investors, one of the larger hedge funds, is losing a top money manager and getting smaller in the process.

The hedge fund, led by O. Andreas Halvorsen, a protégé of the famed hedge fund manager Julian Robertson, notified investors on Monday that the firm’s chief investment officer, Daniel Sundheim, was leaving and that the firm would begin returning some $8 billion to investors, a Viking officer said.

Rose Shabet, chief operating officer at Viking, said Mr. Sundheim’s departure from the firm was “amicable.”

Mr. Sundheim, who has been with Viking for about 15 years, is leaving to pursue “entrepreneurial” ventures, the firm said in a letter to investors.

In the letter, the firm added that the decision to return $8 billion reflects a chance to “reset to a smaller size.”

Still, Viking will remain one of the hedge fund industry’s largest firms — managing about $24 billion after it returns that money, a process that should begin in August. The main portfolio at Viking, which is based in Greenwich, Conn., is said to be up this year.

In recent years, a number of large hedge funds have returned money to investors as they have found that managing too much money can hurt performance as it makes firms less nimble and hard to move in and out of positions.

Mr. Halvorsen said in the letter that Mr. Sundheim was “in a league of his own as a stock picker.”

Mr. Sundheim, who became co-chief investment officer in 2010 and took over the role on a solo basis in 2014, had managed a significant amount of money at the firm. He began managing money for Viking more than a decade ago.

The news of the Viking letter was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Mr. Sundheim, 40, has been one of the better compensated traders in the hedge fund industry. And like many such traders, he has shown a fondness for collecting art.

In 2016, Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine included him on its annual list of top hedge fund earners. The magazine estimated he earned $280 million in 2015, roughly the same as he did in 2014.

But in the most recent edition of the magazine’s “rich list,” neither Mr. Sundheim nor Mr. Halvorsen made the top rankings, in part because the firm’s main portfolio lost about 4 percent last year. The losses in 2016 in the Viking Global Equities portfolio was attributable in part to poor-performing bets on pharmaceutical stocks.