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Odey Asset Management abandons Mayfair headquarters

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Odey Asset Management has vacated its longstanding Mayfair office, closing the doors on one of London’s oldest hedge funds’ headquarters after sexual assault allegations against founder Crispin Odey forced the firm to break itself up.

Staff at the shrinking company have moved from Upper Brook Street into serviced offices a short walk away at 64 North Row, according to a Companies House filing on Wednesday. The new premises are run by One Avenue, which describes them on its website as “luxury” and “state of the art”.

Crispin Odey established his eponymous hedge fund firm on Upper Grosvenor Street in Mayfair in 1991, before expanding and then moving to a building close by on Upper Brook Street. The Upper Brook Street offices were famed for an opulent basement dining room with floor-to-ceiling wine racks, where lunches were often catered by the nearby Michelin-starred Le Gavroche restaurant.

In June, a Financial Times investigation detailing allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Crispin Odey from 13 women threw the firm into crisis as key banking partners quickly moved to cut ties and investors sought to withdraw their money. Last month, the FT reported similar allegations from six more women against him.

The veteran financier, who strenuously denies the claims, was ejected from the firm he established days after the first allegations were published but Odey Asset Management has been unable to successfully distance itself from its founder and has instead been forced to trigger a wind-down plan. The company has had to suspend or shutter certain funds while arranging to transfer fund managers to rivals.

James Hanbury, star fund manager at the firm’s Brook Asset Management subsidiary, has agreed to move with his team to boutique advisory firm Lancaster Investment Management. Hanbury’s Absolute Return fund, which manages £369mn according to the company’s website, was one of several funds that suspended withdrawals in June as the firm tried to contain the crisis. Hanbury’s move was agreed last month and the fund has since reopened.

In June, Odey Asset Management said it was in “advanced talks” to transfer Oliver Kelton and four funds he ran to investment boutique SW Mitchell Capital. The largest of these is the Brook European Focus, which according to the firm’s website has €602mn assets under management.

Freddie Neave, who took over managing OEI Mac, one of Crispin Odey’s flagship funds, is in discussions to move to Landseer Asset Management and switch shareholders’ investments to a new fund as part of a restructuring announced in July.

Two other funds previously managed by Crispin Odey have been wound down entirely, with Odey Portfolio already closed and Odey Swan set to redeem investors by September 4.

Probes by the UK’s financial watchdog into Odey Asset Management and Crispin Odey are ongoing. Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority set out the scale of its investigations in a letter to the Treasury select committee.

The FCA is investigating Odey Asset Management for possible contraventions of the watchdog’s business principles, including “failing to conduct its affairs with due skill, care and diligence”. The investigation into Crispin Odey centres on whether he is a “fit and proper person” to work in financial services, which if found against him would ban him from future roles.

Jill Greenfield, a lawyer at Fieldfisher who is representing two of his alleged victims, has asked the FCA to ringfence assets at Odey Asset Management to ensure money will be available to pay any future redress awarded to victims as the women examine potential litigation.

Odey Asset Management declined to comment.

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