Only 376 hedge funds liquidated in the first quarter of the year, down 52% from 778 that shut their doors in the fourth quarter of 2008, Hedge Fund Research said. The number that liquidated in the first quarter represented 4.05% of the 9,050 total number of hedge funds, and the number that went out of business the previous quarter was 7.77%.

Most, 200, or 53%, of the funds that liquidated were hedge funds-of-funds, nearly double that of the fourth quarter.

Over the past year, a total of 12% of hedge funds have closed. “Although risk aversion began to recede from historical levels, the structural consolidation which has been ongoing for several quarters continued to transform the landscape of the industry,” Hedge Fund Research President Kenneth Heinz told The Wall Street Journal. “The combination of the structural evolution and recent performance will continue to drive industry growth and change in 2009.”

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