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A star quant trader is launching his own firm with the backing of a $4 billion hedge fund

A star quant trader is launching his own firm with the backing of a $4 billion hedge fund

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REUTERS/NASA/Carla Cioffi/Handout

Schonfeld Strategic Advisors, a multi-billion family office and hedge fund, is expanding its reach in quant trading.

The New York-based firm is backing a new quant fund from Eric Tavel, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Canadian bank RBC.

Schonfeld is seeding its new quant investment with $100 million. The new firm, Masa Capital, plans to launch in the first half of next year with as much as $150 million total under management, including Tavel's own cash.

Tavel headed RBC's quant proprietary trading group, GAT, from 2010 through last year, according to a LinkedIn page. At Goldman, he oversaw the firm's quantitative investment strategies group and co-managed the Global Alpha Fund, from 1996 through 2010, according to a Schonfeld press statement.

The new fund will focus on quant trading in futures and currencies, among other strategies, Tavel told Business Insider.

While Schonfeld already runs quant strategies in its book, the new addition will help the firm diversify, said Schonfeld's chief investment officer, Ryan Tolkin.

"Many of our strategies are statistical arbitrage strategies," Tolkin said. "That basically means relying or using historical pricing information to help predict future price movement of stocks. Many of them are equity based, and what Eric is doing differently is trading different asset classes from a quantitative perspective."

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Schonfeld managed about $4 billion at the start of the year excluding leverage, according to a regulatory filing. That means Masa will make up a tiny bit of the firm's overall portfolio when it launches, but the move to back Masa coincides with Schonfeld's backing and acquisition of more talent, Tolkin said.

The launch comes as more asset managers push into quant investing.

Steve Cohen, for instance, is investing $250 million in a Boston-based quant firm, Quantopian, which makes trades based on algorithms sent by thousands of traders. Cohen's family office, Point72 Asset Management, which manages his billions, already has a separate quant arm called Cubist Systematic Strategies.

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