For almost two decades, Charles Henri Hirsch has been quietly helping clients grow their wealth by investing in an equity market unfamiliar to many — Russia. As chief investment adviser of Equinox, Hirsch has been instrumental in the fund’s incredible total net return of 6,783% over the past 17 years (as at Dec 31, 2017). This equals to an annualised return of 26.5%. Between 2000 and 2007 alone, the fund saw a return of 8,025%.
Citywire, a London-based financial publishing and information group, ranks Equinox as the top performer among its 48 peers, based on its performance over the last five years. Over a decade, it is ranked No 2 among the 35 other funds that invest in Russia. As at the end of last year, the fund had US$48 million in assets under management. Its investors are mainly private banks and high-net-worth individuals from European countries such as Germany, France, Belgium and Italy. Despite its impressive performance, the fund has not gained enough attention from Asian investors, says Hirsch. “We are based in Russia and Europe and don’t market ourselves aggressively. We used to have some Asian investors, but they pulled out in 2007.”
Last December, Hirsch spoke at the World Wealth Creation Conference in Singapore to share his investment journey and market views. He also talked about his wildly successful bet on 15 Russian electricity companies a few years before the turn of the century. These companies, which were operating hydro and thermal power plants, were trading at very cheap valuations, he said. “As a result, the fund recorded a return of more than 8,000% from 2000 to 2007. In a recent phone interview with Personal Wealth, Hirsch, who is French, delved into greater detail about the strategies he had employed and companies he had picked over the years.
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