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managed money

Jean-François Tardif

Former star hedge fund manager Jean-François Tardif, who "retired" from Sprott Asset Management LP in 2009, is now back in the investment business.

Mr. Tardif, who is in his early 40s, has been hired by First Asset Investment Management Inc. to run a new closed-end hedge fund to list on Toronto Stock Exchange in May.

The manager, who was not available for comment during this quiet period for the new JFT Strategies Fund, has launched his own firm, Timelo Investment Management Inc., in a town where he resides near Toronto.

In a preliminary prospectus filed with regulators, the objective of the long-short fund is described as one that aims to maximize return "while seeking to mitigate market risk and volatility."

His new fund is expected to be run similar to his former Sprott Opportunities Hedge Fund L.P., where he took an opportunistic, go-anywhere investment approach. That fund posted an average annual return of 21 per cent for the five years ended April 30, 2009.

The JFT Strategies Fund units are priced at $10 each with a Class A and Class F series. The latter, which are for fee-based or institutional accounts, will not be publicly listed, but will be convertible into the A units on a monthly basis.

Before Mr. Tardif retired, he ran $420-million in assets at Sprott in several funds, including offshore offerings. He had a loyal following of investors, some of whom redeemed his funds when he left.

It is not clear whether he will attract money from his old Sprott funds, which have been run since February by John Wilson, a former chief investment officer with Cumberland Private Wealth Management. The fund had been co-managed by other Sprott managers, Charles Oliver and Jamie Horvat.

Mr. Tardif joined Sprott in 2001 after working as a small-cap manager with ING Investment Management in St. Hyacinthe, Que. He had about 3.4 million shares in Sprott's parent Sprott Inc. when it went public in 2008. It is not clear whether he has sold all of his interest.

He said he was leaving Sprott to spend time with his growing family, and was "not sure" whether he would return to the investment business.

Mr. Tardif also participated in Globe Investor's My One and Only stock-picking contest, and was a three-time champion from 2007 to 2009.

Toronto-based First Asset is a wealth-management company that sells mutual funds, closed-end funds and administers exchange-traded funds (ETFs) under the XTF brand. It has about $2.6-billion in total assets.