Investment

Family offices not afraid to deal in complexity with strategic relationships

Nordic investor Bjarne Graven Larsen has recruited a powerful array of talent from family offices, banks and institutions at Qblue Balanced, his Copenhagen-based investment firm. 

Not shy of complexity, Larsen wants to offer one-stop investment solutions to his clients far removed from stock picking. His newest recruit, Esben Hedegaard, has just joined from AQR Capital Management where he researched the sophisticated interplay between data and stock markets.

Larsen seeks to avoid the kind of biases in human behaviour led by fear and greed which push prices away from reality. He aims to coax returns from a range of assets and strategies as and when markets move out of line.

Larsen is also chairman of Kirk Kapital, a family office that manages the portion of Lego assets which is owned by the Kirk Johansen family. Casper Kirk Johansen, vice chairman of Kirk Kapital, is now director of Qblue. 

Last year, Kirk Kapital agreed to take on assets for the Nissen family, founder of a cooling solutions company majority-owned by private equity firm Axcel. 

Casper Kirk Johansen takes a proactive approach following twenty years in private equity. He chairs Danish private equity firm Kirk & Thorsen building on a career at Axcel and LD. His generation received their inheritance from their mother, Gunhild, in 2019.  

Qblue chairman Jens Peter Neergaard has retired from Danske Bank after twenty years service, latterly running its international arm. He is also a partner at his family office Leschly & Neergaard. 

Director Lotte Mollerup van Hauen has experience in consultancy, legislation and banking.  She is director of challenger bank Lunar.  

Frederick Martinsson, former chief investment officer at ATP, is a director and investment chief at Qblue.  Just before Qblue he was CIO to Kiski Group, whose clients include family offices.  

Below board level, Kevin Mitchell, a Qblue co-founder, started his career at Mermaid Asset Management, a Nordic multi-family office, where he was responsible for reporting systems. He also used to work for Kiski Group.

Qblue’s investment team has diverse talents in systematic investing. But the majority worked for Danish state pension scheme ATP, led by Larsen between 1999 and 2011. 

Back then, ATP developed an enviable track record for managing risk in five buckets comprising equities, credit, interest rates, inflation and commodities. It used a liquidity buffer designed to protect itself against risk and take advantage of cheap deals at times of stress.

Larsen seeks to avoid the kind of biases in human behaviour led by fear and greed which push prices away from reality. He aims to coax returns from a range of assets and strategies as and when markets move out of line.

According to Qblue’s website: “Getting rid of uncompensated risk and harvesting diversification benefits are key to successful investments and can significantly enhance your risk-reward profile.”

Qblue intends to use rules-based investing to handle risks and correlations. It will draw on the experience of risk-parity strategies, employed by Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates, which employs leverage to take hefty positions in relatively safe assets. 

Qblue stands ready to use tail risk, factor analysis and market neutrality which uses a balance of long and short bets. Algorithms will help implement investment solutions. 

It wants to avoid long positions in companies exposed to climate change issues: “Ongoing improvement and continuous innovation in our sustainable investment approach is a top priority.”

In a sign that asset gathering is beginning, Amanda Ladeira Pereira joined Qnblue from Danske Bank over the summer to lead client relations in Europe. 

She has lofty expectations to manage. According to the Danish media, Qblue’s goal is to manage $7 billion. It wants to be: “A global leader that defines the industry standards in the field of systematic investments.” 

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