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Some SAC Capital investment staff jumping to rival firm

An exterior view of the headquarters of SAC Capital Advisors, L.P. in Stamford, Connecticut July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - Three investment professionals have quit Steve Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors, currently fighting criminal insider trading charges, to join a rival hedge fund, two people familiar with the moves said on Friday.

Andres Anker, Alexey Chentsov and Santiago Falconi left Cohen's $14 billion firm to join Israel Englander's $18 billion Millennium Management. Chentsov and Falconi worked as SAC analysts for 9 years and 7 years, respectively. Anker, a portfolio manager, quit SAC in March 2012.

Millennium, like SAC, employs dozens of smaller portfolio teams to buy and sell thousands of securities quickly.

News of the departures was first reported by CNBC.com.

With roughly 900 employees, SAC is one of world's biggest hedge fund industry employers and has long been known for periodic turnover.

The firm's long-running legal woes intensified this year when the U.S. government charged the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm with securities and wire fraud, prompting outside investors to pull out virtually all of their capital. Some of that money might move to Millennium, former SAC investors have said.

Because $9 billion of SAC's assets belong to Cohen and his top executives, the fund will remain very large by industry standards. Still, speculation has mounted that some employees, including investment professionals, would be leaving SAC.

A few weeks ago, the firm let go about a dozen marketing and sales staff as it became clear the fund would not be attracting outside capital while it defends itself against the government's charges.

So far, there has been no mass exodus on the investment side, people familiar with the firm said. They said investment staff may want to stick around now, with bonus season in sight.

Customarily, Cohen has paid bonuses, based on employee performance, through the end of November and delayed paying a portion into the new year. He also announced a second round of retention bonuses earlier this month, boosting pay already considered very generous by industry standards.

To prevent throngs of investment staff from walking out, SAC will pay portfolio managers working on long/short equity, macro and quantitative strategies an automatic 3.5 percent bonus next year - if they commit to staying. Analysts working on long/short equity funds would receive a guaranteed minimum pay of $300,000 for the year, a source familiar with the retention bonuses said.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Andrew Hay and Gunna Dickson)