The global hedge-fund industry saw record inflows of an estimated $60 billion in net assets in 2003, according to a preliminary report by Tass, the research arm of U.K.-based Tremont Capital Management.

The report noted that fourth-quarter asset inflows of $15 billion brought the total increase in net assets fourfold over 2002’s net gain of $16.3 billion. Global hedge-funds now stand at between $725 billion and $750 billion, it said.

The growth in popularity of hedge funds last year is due to their strong returns, averaging 15.4%, Tass said. By comparison, hedge funds only returned an average 3% in 2002.

The number of hedge funds has grown correspondingly to around 6,700 funds, of which 1,700 are funds of hedge funds.

At the end of 2002, Tass estimates that there were between 5,000 and 6,000 hedge funds, 1,250 of which were funds-of-hedge funds.

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