Citigroup Global Wealth Management is joining the hedge fund fray.

Officials with the asset management unit of Smith Barney and The Citigroup Private Bank said yesterday that it has entered a joint venture with Pacific Alternative Asset Management to provide custom hedge fund of funds portfolio management services to ultra-high net worth investors.

Called Global Hedge Strategies, the venture reflects the growing demand and increasing sophistication of hedge funds, said Todd S. Thomson, CEO, Citigroup Global Wealth Management.

"Increasingly, our clients are moving beyond basic funds of hedge funds to hedge fund portfolios tailored to their specific needs," he said.

Billed as a merger between two flagship money managers, the venture combines the expertise of Citigroup's 560 private bankers and its 12,000 financial consultants with the hedge fund management acumen of Irvine, Calif.-based Pacific Alternative Asset Management, which manages more than $7 billion in assets.

Such investment know-how comes at a premium, however, as clients must have a minimum net worth of $25 million to take advantage of the new service, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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