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Goodbye Och-Ziff. Hello, Sculptor. Hedge Fund Tries New Name

Nabila Ahmed and Katherine Burton
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Goodbye Och-Ziff. Hello, Sculptor. Hedge Fund Tries New Name

(Bloomberg) -- In naming their hedge funds, managers have found inspiration in a childhood neighborhood (Highbridge), favorite ski trails (FrontFour) and even a grandfather (Melvin).

At Och-Ziff Capital Management Inc., executives sought out branding professionals and spent tens of thousands of dollars to come up with a new name: Sculptor Capital Management.

The $33 billion firm chose Sculptor because it "evokes the dedication, persistence and vision that embody what we strive for daily as stewards of your capital," according to a letter sent Monday to investors.

The more practical reason for the change: The New York-based firm decided it needed a reboot to reflect the departure of its founder -- Dan Och. It also helps to distance itself from recent legal troubles that have caused a massive client exodus.

The last five years have proved difficult for Och-Ziff. Clients in its flagship hedge fund have pulled $27 billion since the end of 2014, when the company first disclosed it was the target of a multiyear investigation into bribery in Africa. (It paid a $400 million fine in a settlement.) In subsequent years, top executives left and new leadership was put in place. Och, who founded the firm in 1994, retired as chairman in March.

Och-Ziff joins an array of companies that have changed their names -- sometimes to comic result. Tribune Publishing Co., owner of the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun, went with Tronc briefly before going back to the Tribune name last year. Blackwater tried Xe Services before settling on Academi. BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. merged recently into Truist.

Rebranding has its downside. "It can be more difficult to get meetings because people don’t recognize the name, and you have to spend time explaining why you decided to make the change," said Don Steinbrugge, head of Agecroft Partners, which helps hedge funds raise money.

Name changes don’t come cheap, either. Rebranding companies generally charge anywhere from $40,000 to $400,000, according to industry participants.

The firm, which has raised money in the past several years issuing lower-fee collateralized debt obligations, recently hired Louisa Church as head of investor relations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Its flagship hedge fund has climbed 11% through July.

The new name, Sculptor, goes into effect on Sept. 12.

(Updates with industry comment in the 7th paragraph.)

--With assistance from Sridhar Natarajan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Nabila Ahmed in New York at nahmed54@bloomberg.net;Katherine Burton in New York at kburton@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Mirabella at amirabella@bloomberg.net, Vincent Bielski

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