Billionaire Cliff Asness’ hedge fund AQR hit with $43B COVID-19 losses

Billionaire investor Cliff Asness has spent his quarantine watching $43 billion disappear.

Asness’ AQR Capital — which managed $186 billion at the end of 2019 — has updated its Web site to reflect that its assets under management as of March 31 now stand at $143 billion.

It’s unclear how much of the massive 23 percent drop in assets is due to investor withdrawals versus investment losses, but the notoriously outspoken Asness, 53, has been suffering from redemptions amid sagging performance since last year.

Returns have worsened this year for some of Asness’ funds as the coronavirus pandemic batters the economy and the stock market, according to AQR’s Web site.

The firm’s Multi-Strategy Alternative fund, for example, is down 22 percent this year following declines of 10 percent in 2019. Its Small-Cap Multi-Style fund, which was up 20 percent last year, is now down 29 percent.

Investors across the board have gotten hammered this year in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. But the declines at AQR, which manages both hedge funds and traditional stock and bond funds, stand out, industry watchers say.

“That’s pretty terrible,” one hedge fund manager told The Post. “Things are bad out there, but $43 billion is a death signal.”

Asness, known for smashing computer screens on his Greenwich, Conn.-based trading floor when displeased, has scowled in the face of redemption threats before, according to reports.

At the time, he was also managing more than $225 billion.

“Please redeem now as I find posturing fools in our funds ‘beyond concerning.’ Bye bye,” he told a Twitter critic who claimed to be an AQR investor, according to Nov. 2018 Institutional Investor report.

He also dismissed the critic — who called one of Asness’ expletive-laden tweet storms “beyond concerning as a fiduciary and as one of your investors” — as a “fake investor.”

Asness has continued his fiery tweeting this year even as the coronavirus has shuttered businesses and sent his hedge fund peers down an average of 7.3 percent in the first quarter of 2020, according to performance tracker Hedge Fund Research.

In one recent tweet, he rushed to the defense of fellow hedgie Bill Ackman in response to a New York Post column accusing wealthy hedge fund managers like Ackman, who cleared a cool $2.6 billion shorting the stock market in March, of making profits off the virus.

“I don’t know Ackman,” Asness tweeted on March 27. “But this is a particularly idiotic hit piece.”

As The Post reported earlier this year, AQR recently cut staff by 5 percent to 10 percent as investors redeemed funds in the wake of 2019’s sagging results.

“AQR has no layoffs planned for the second quarter of 2020,” a spokesperson from AQR told The Post.

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