Jeff Vinik closing hedge fund to focus on hockey

Jeff Vinik, seen presenting a watch to Vincent Lecavalier in honor of his 1,000th NHL game, is owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jeff Vinik, seen presenting a watch to Vincent Lecavalier in honor of his 1,000th NHL game, is owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Chris O’Meara /Associated Press

Jeff Vinik told investors in a letter Friday that he plans to shut down his hedge fund and return their money by June 30.

Vinik, a former manager of Fidelity’s Magellan mutual fund, said he wants to devote more time to his ownership of the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team and to his family, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Globe.

Vinik launched his hedge fund business in 1996 in downtown Boston but last year moved the headquarters of Vinik Asset Management to Tampa, to be closer to the team. He bought a house there and moved his family with him, prompting some clients to wonder if his heart was still in the investment business.


After delivering investors returns averaging 17 percent a year since opening, Vinik’s performance slipped this past year. The fund has lost 4.8 percent of its value in 10 months since July 1, while markets have generally climbed.

Vinik, 54, said in the letter that he and cofounder Michael Gordon “both love competing with the market day in and day out” but “it is time for us to take a break.” Bloomberg News first reported on the letter.

Vinik closed his hedge fund once before, in 2000, when he returned $4.2 billion to clients. He mainly managed his own money for a few years, but later reopened quietly and slowly expanded the business again. Last year, he was running the eighth-largest hedge fund in Boston, with nearly $9 billion in assets.

This is not the first time a Boston hedge fund manager has chosen professional sports teams over money management. John Henry recently shut down his hedge fund to devote more time to the Boston Red Sox, England’s Liverpool soccer club, and other sports ventures. Jim Pallotta traded in hedge fund life for the Italian soccer team AS Roma, along with some private equity work.


Vinik continues to hold a small stake in the Red Sox as well.

Meanwhile, Vinik’s other partners may launch new funds. The letter said his Growth Group portfolio managers — Doug Gordon, Jon Hilsabeck, and Don Jabro — expect to start an independent long-short equities hedge fund in Boston. They will likely use the Vinik Asset Management office downtown, Vinik said. Other professionals at the firm also may launch new businesses, he said.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.