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Rookie of the Year 2022: Protean Select

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Stockholm (HedgeNordic) – One of the first distinctions up for grabs in the lifecycle of a newly-launched hedge fund in the Nordics is the “Rookie of the Year” award. The main award categories at the Nordic Hedge Award are only open to funds with a track record of at least three years. As a result, the “Rookie of the Year” award is just one of the two honors – in addition to the 12-month performance award – a  young hedge fund can compete for. This prize rewards the most promising hedge fund debut of the passing year, as decided by a group of fellow fund managers.

The winner of this special award is selected by a peer jury composed of other Nordic hedge fund managers. For this award category, the usual selection process that relies on both qualitative and quantitative assessments is not applicable, for many reasons. Rookies, by definition, have a limited track record and cannot be quantitatively evaluated in the same manner as the contenders in the main award categories. The winner in this award category, therefore, is mostly selected based on qualitative assessments from this peer group jury.

The five-member jury board had the difficult task of selecting the most promising hedge fund launch of 2022. The jury’s task was to assess which funds they would feel most confident investing in, which funds were most likely to achieve their performance targets, and which ones were better positioned to become prominent funds among their peers in the future. The members of the jury were given full discretion in choosing the criteria they were most comfortable with, with the ultimate goal of identifying the most promising hedge fund launch.

Rookie of the Year: Protean Select

The inaugural recipient of the “Rookie of the Year” award was an equity hedge fund called Elementa, and the subsequent five winners were all from the fixed-income space. For the third time since the “Rookie of the Year” category debuted at the 2015 Nordic Hedge Award and for a second consecutive year, the prize for the most promising new hedge fund launch has been awarded to an equity-focused hedge fund. This year’s jury board has voted Stockholm-based Protean Select as the 2022 Rookie of the Year.

“We are honoured and grateful to be named the “Rookie of the Year” for 2022, recognizing our hedge fund as the most promising launch of the year,” comments Pontus Dackmo, who co-founded and co-manages the long-biased equity hedge fund alongside Carl Gustafsson. “It is especially meaningful to us that our industry peers have selected us for this award,” continues Dackmo. “This recognition is a testament to the team’s ambition to create an investment vehicle that prioritizes credibility and returns over asset gathering.”

“This recognition is a testament to the team’s ambition to create an investment vehicle that prioritizes credibility and returns over asset gathering.”

After launching Protean Capital Management in mid-August 2021 to pool and invest capital in listed Nordic equities via a family office setting, Dackmo – later joined by Carl Gustafsson from Didner & Gerge – launched Protean Select on May 2 of 2022. Protean Select is a returns-focused hedge fund employing a long/short approach to invest in Nordic equities. The fund performed strongly in the difficult market conditions of 2022, with the portfolio management duo achieving a return of 8.8 percent during the first eight months of its operation. Up four percent in the first four months of 2023, Protean Select has delivered a cumulative 13 percent since inception. The fund is among the top ten best-performing Nordic hedge funds of the past 12 months and has achieved its returns with a low downside volatility and a well-diversified portfolio.

“We are constantly reminded that success is not achieved alone.”

“Starting a fund achieving early success requires multiple factors, not least luck,” says Dackmo, who has many years of experience as an investor and equity capital markets participant through various roles at ABG Sundall Collier, Danske Bank, Nordea, and SEB. “We are lucky to have investors placing their trust in us and giving us the raw material to succeed,” he emphasizes. Just one year from its launch, Protean Select oversees over SEK 800 million in assets under management. “We are fortunate to have suppliers and partners that support with advice, ideas, infrastructure, and service (and invoices). We are constantly reminded that success is not achieved alone,” says Dackmo.

The duo’s investment strategy “is derived from the fact we’re managing our own assets: we want acceptable returns but hate losing money,” according to Dackmo. “The gist of our idea is to offer a vehicle for limited co-investment in an adaptive strategy, with attention paid to risk mitigation and size constraints,” continues the investment manager. “We do not subscribe to a particular investment philosophy. It’s therefore somewhat of a challenge to characterize the fund in simple terms,” explains Dackmo. “The best description I can come up with is we look for asymmetric opportunities: significant upside and acceptable downside, moderate upside and small downside, limited upside and no downside.”

“We are not resting on our laurels, however.”

Protean Select has enjoyed a beautiful journey since its inception, with the founding duo appointing Daniel Mackey as the Chief Operating Officer of the fund management company in late 2022 to help steer the growing ship. The fund boutique is also strengthening its investment team with the hiring of Ramil Koria ahead of the planned launch of a long-only fund in the summer. “We are not resting on our laurels, however,” says Dackmo. “We have doubled the team since launch with a senior COO in Daniel Mackey and a third investment professional in Ramil Koria. Responding to investor demand we are also launching a second fund, the long-only Protean Small Cap fund on the 1st of June, with the same process and thinking as Protean Select: versatile, fundamental, Nordic focused with skin in the game.”


This article features in HedgeNordic’s Nordic Hedge Award magazine.

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Eugeniu Guzun
Eugeniu Guzun
Eugeniu Guzun serves as a data analyst responsible for maintaining and gatekeeping the Nordic Hedge Index, and as a journalist covering the Nordic hedge fund industry for HedgeNordic. Eugeniu completed his Master’s degree at the Stockholm School of Economics in 2018. Write to Eugeniu Guzun at eugene@hedgenordic.com

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