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A senior Citadel portfolio manager nearly joined Balyasny - but decided to stick with Ken Griffin

A senior Citadel portfolio manager nearly joined Balyasny - but decided to stick with Ken Griffin

Ken Griffin

CNBC/ Heidi Gutman

Ken Griffin's Citadel was able to keep one of its top fixed income portfolio managers.

  • After initially agreeing to join Balyasny Asset Management late last year, longtime Citadel portfolio manager Nilsson Kocher reversed course and decided to return to Ken Griffin's fund, a source familiar tells Business Insider.
  • Kocher helped create Citadel's global fixed income business in 2008 and worked as a portfolio manager for a decade before leaving the firm in March of 2018 voluntarily.

Nilsson Kocher came close to running money somewhere other than Citadel - the place where he had worked for a decade - when he signed on to work at rival Chicago hedge fund Balyasny Asset Management.

But, thanks to an offer for a more senior position, Kocher decided to return to Ken Griffin's $30 billion firm in the end, a source tells Business Insider.

As 2018 hedge fund performance put the industry under a harsh spotlight, large hedge funds are working to keep their top talent in-house so they can present a stable front to demanding institutional investors. Citadel already this year has lost its top stock-picker, Jack Woodruff, who is launching his own fund, and one of Steve Cohen's top quants has left Point72's Cubist arm to start his own fund.

Kocher joined Citadel in October 2008, according to his LinkedIn, and helped start the firm's global fixed income business, in which he worked as a portfolio manager. A source familiar with Kocher's situation said he voluntarily left the firm in March 2018 to take personal time, and then decided to come back to the industry at the end of last year.

Kocher initially accepted an offer from $8 billion Balyasny Asset Management at the end of last year, despite the fact the manager cut a fifth of its staff at the end of 2018 due to poor performance. Kocher, a source tells Business Insider, then reneged on his commitment with Balyasny to rejoin Citadel in a bigger role: senior portfolio manager.

See more: Bridgewater, the biggest hedge fund in the world, crushed it in 2018 as most funds struggled

Kocher is based out of Citadel's Greenwich, Conn. office and is in charge of structured rates and volatility adjusted value investing on the global fixed income team. He re-started at Citadel nearly a year after he left, in early February.

While hedge fund performance took a nose dive in 2018, Griffin's Wellington fund returned more than 9% on the year. And while Citadel's equity team no longer has portfolio managers Woodruff and Adam Wolfman, who was fired by Citadel along with his team of 3 analysts, the firm has added more than 50 positions to its Surveyor equity arm in London and New York, recruiting investing talent from D.E. Shaw and others.

Kocher did not respond to requests for comment. Representative for Citadel and Balyasny declined to comment,

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