Turner Investment Partners has launched a new hedge fund unit, called Ascendant Capital Partners, and named Gary Shugrue as its chief investment officer, the company announced today. Shugrue will run the new business with Turner chief operating officer, John Grady.

The new firm will be operated separately from Turner and will not use Turner portfolio managers, according to Shugrue.

The formation of Ascendant comes at a time when many firms are looking at alternative investments as a means to develop new business, particularly in the high-net-worth market. This is a good time to develop a hedge fund business, Shugrue said. "It’s an area that people have a lot of interest in right now. The market is right for it. People are looking for a way to diversify away from the more traditional vehicles."

Turner has discussed the possibility of creating a hedge fund unit for several months, but is just getting started with its development, according to Shugrue. The timing worked out well because the company was interested in creating the unit at the same time Shugrue was looking to return to the hedge fund business, he said.

In addition to Shugrue and Grady, three additional people will be involved with the new unit, and additional analytical staff will be added as the business expands, Shugrue said.

In 1988, Shugrue co-founded Argos Advisors, a hedge fund investment advisor in Wayne, Pa. There, he was responsible for operations, investment strategy and marketing for the firm. In 2000, he left Argos to become COO for Double Agent, a company that provides software to track Web site usage.

He left the hedge fund business because he "wanted a change, among other reasons," but is happy to be returning to the business.

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