Signet FFF publications

The Sum Is Greater Than The Parts For Signet FFF

By Greg Winterton - 15 April 2021

Greg Winterton of AlphaWeek interviews Dmitry Evenko, Member of the Board, Signet FFF Holding Limited

In 2016, Signet Capital Management Limited ("Signet"), which was a significant player in the fund of hedge funds business in the early- to mid-nineties, sold a stake to the majority shareholder of Limassol, Cyprus-based FFF Asset Management Limited ("FFF"). By that time, Signet had merged with Spectrum Partners, an emerging markets-focused hedge fund firm founded by Dmitry Evenko; in 2021, Evenko, now a Senior Partner at FFF and Director at Signet, is spearheading the transformation of both firms into a single entity, Signet FFF.

Technically - at least, for now - Signet FFF is two different companies, FFF and Signet. The former has real estate and private equity interests, but FFF's flagship product is a fixed income hedge fund. Signet is based in London and manages a quantitative macro fund and a fund of hedge funds; Signet's flagship product is a global equity UCITS fund which invests mainly in the technology, healthcare, entertainment and leisure sectors.

"There's an element of Blackstone in what we're offering;" said Evenko. "We have investments in hedge funds, private equity and real estate. It's about offering a helicopter view for our investors."

"The equity UCITS fund is a legacy offering of Signet's UCITS plat form. Launched in 2010, the platform eventually warehoused strategies sub-advised or managed by external managers. That strategy no longer exists, with Signet FFF more interested in launching internally managed products."

"Signet had a platform with five UCITS funds, each managed by an external manager, each in high yield fixed income. It didn't grow, so we decided to do it all in-house; said Evenko. we like the UCITS format because it allows us to sell strategies to the broader public. For us, this is an efficient way of distribution because even though the strategy is managed by us, distribution is almost automatic as investors can just buy the units at exchanges. We expect this to become a corner stone of our business."

Signet FFF's equities' products are all long-biased. Their expertise focuses on the healthcare, technology, and entertainment/leisure sectors, something that, for Evenko, ties into a belief with regards to how long alpha is best generated.

"We believe in specialisation. It's just not possible to cover everything," he said. "so, we've assembled teams of experts in these areas because you need to understand your sector to create alpha on the long side."

Hedging in the equity products is done largely via index derivatives, with little regard for chasing alpha on the short side.

"We don't do a lot of alpha shorts because we're not experts at that. Something like 30% of all hedge funds are long short equity, so I don't see what we can add there. Also, I think investors are more interested in specific investment themes and so funds that are more specialised are more attractive to investors," said Evenko.

It's a little different in fixed income. Signet FFF's only true absolute return product is designed to embrace an entire fixed income allocation given the challenges in delivering alpha on the long side in that market.

"Right now, it's very difficult to make money in fixed income, long-only port folios so we actively rotate the portfolio between the various instruments with in fixed income. We invest in anything we want - apart from junk bonds -as long as it's within our limits. We take quite a holistic approach to fixed income investing because we think that's necessary to be able to deliver returns in that asset class."

Signet FFF opened an office In Zurich, Switzerland 18 months ago and will shortly apply for a license from FINMA, the country's financial markets regulator. Having a presence in Switzerland makes sense so that they can access capital in the country's famous wealth management industry, but Evenko says that Signet FFF sees other opportunities that should come from having a presence there. "All wealth managers now need a license in Switzerland, and for some of the smaller ones, the costs will be too high for them to continue so these companies will need to either close or merge with another. We want to grow organically but we are very interested in M&A and Switzerland is the most interesting place to acquire assets and teams with assets. We're excited about the opportunities in Switzerland;" he said.

Alongside growth via M&A, Signet FFF has plans to launch additional UCITS funds in 2021, again based around a certain theme and/ or sector, but Evenko and his colleagues on the management and ownership team already have one eye on the future.

"In the short term, we see ourselves as a kind of incubator. We want to create a platform where talented managers can make money for our investors, and in turn, themselves. And the shareholders of the business are commercially oriented businesspeople; we don't exclude the possibility of an IPO or sale to a strategic partner in the next five to ten years and we're trying to create value outside of performance to that end. But ultimately, we'll only be successful if we make money for our investors, and that's what we're focused on."

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By Gaius Iulius Caesar - 51/50 B.C.

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A Cut Above The rest

By CM Guest Columnist -

For more than 60 years Andreas Dometakis has been a beacon for quality shirts. As one of the most respected and internationally renowned shirt makers in the entertainment industry, he is a flagbearer for fashion. From opulent theatrical productions and successful TV series to Oscar-winning films, Andreas’ creations are one-of-a-kind treasures, some developing a cult-like following.

Born in Limassol, he relocated to the UK in the early 1960s, immediately using his cutting skills to work at a high-end clothing manufacturer in London. "I was excited to start a new chapter in my life, particularly in London," Andreas said.

"The sixties were the defining decade for Britain, and London was going through a metamorphosis – from a gloomy post-war capital into a shining epicentre of style. I wanted to be a part of it," he added. Realising the rising demands put on the city’s fashion design, retail and manufacturing industry, Andreas enrolled himself in college to improve his sewing skills. Taken aback by his creative know-how, which he acquired from his early days in Cyprus, his teacher felt there was nothing more that Andreas could learn, so he left.

Seven years later, Andreas founded his own tailoring business in the Soho area of central London, specialising in bespoke shirts and collaborating with some of the most notable tailors and designers near Piccadilly Circus and on Savile Row. His exceptional artistry soon reached the ears of the BBC’s costume designers, who commissioned him to create sequin shirts for The Black and White Minstrel Show – a lavishly costumed variety show, which presented traditional American minstrel and country songs.

"When I saw my work on television for the first time, it was emotional," Andreas said. "Success necessitates sacrifice. But it is the challenges that are the best lessons in the end; the best souvenirs." His work ethic led to a closer working relationship with the BBC, leading to him creating custom-made shirts for popular sketch comedies and music shows such as The Two Ronnies and The Young Generation.

Together with his wife Androulla, who he met at their local church group and later married, Andreas relocated their business to bigger premises to better accommodate the growing pool of elite clientele in search of his timeless, one-off creations. Dedicated to his profession, Andreas followed the trends and made a point of understanding customer needs. Utilising quality fabrics and sewing techniques, he offered details that were customised according to preference such as collars, cuffs, and the types of buttons used.

Living in Covent Garden – an open-air fruit-and-vegetable market at the time – and close to the Royal Opera House, Andreas would meet well-known actors, performers, musicians, and tenors on a regular basis, all identifying with his artisanship and personalised service. "I take countless measurements and consider every detail of the architecture of the shirt before producing the final product that will bear the ‘Dometakis’ fashion label," he said. "It is my stamp of approval."

He has built up an impressive list of working on the highest level of commercial theatre productions, from London’s celebrated West End to New York’s dazzling Broadway district. Since it first opened in London in 1986 and in 1988 in New York, Andreas continues to work feverishly behind the scenes, creating shirts for the world’s most popular musical, The Phantom of the Opera. "I travelled extensively with the production to Japan, Austria, Germany, France and Belgium, ensuring my creations were perfect for every global performance." But it doesn’t stop there. The ‘Dometakis’ signature label can be spotted in countless wardrobes of many professional productions including Singin in the Rain, Grease, Sunset Boulevard, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Les Misérables, Evita, Miss Saigon and Wicked. Andreas is currently working on the shirts for Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s multi-award winning musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

All a long way from Cyprus, the country of their birth and for which Andreas and Androulla have great affection. Androulla was born in a village in the north and relocated with her family to the UK at the age of nine. Both are proud of their cultural heritage, and rarely hesitate to promote their Cypriot identity among their star-studded friends. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp are regular customers, as are a wide variety of dignitaries and royals; however, Andreas and Androulla refuse to disclose their names.

Like most costume designers, Andreas possesses the skill to satisfy the unique demands of designing shirts for film. As well as contributing to the look, he understands that costume is at the core of a film or television drama. "It is important for one to research fashion, especially if it is from another era," he said. "My shirts have to duplicate the film’s period exactly, as it will help the actor feel emotionally connected to the character he is playing."

Andreas works closely with costume and wardrobe departments, researching, sketching and drawing mood boards of characters and clothes to communicate the style. His vast list of film shirt credits include the ‘train shirt’ worn by Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, the multi-coloured pinstripe design worn by Johnny Depp in Chocolat, Colin Firth’s buttoned-up vintage collar shirt in The King’s Speech, and Harrison Ford’s distinctive and timeless shirt from the highly successful Indiana Jones franchise. "I based the design on a typical safari-style shirt," Andreas said. "I was surprised when this item of clothing developed a cult following with fans of the film and was at one stage one of the most sought-after film souvenirs." Andreas also has a long-standing history with Britain’s secret agent, James Bond, creating tailored-to-fit shirting for all of the actors who have portrayed Ian Fleming’s 007.

In recent years, Andreas’ shirt credits include Mr Selfridge, a British TV series about Harry Gordon Selfridge and his department store, and Netflix’s historical drama, The Crown – one of the most streamed television series of all time.

At the age of 83, Andreas is showing no signs of retiring. When asked what legacy he would like to leave behind, he turns to look at the woman sitting beside him, his wife and pillar of strength for over 50 years, and thanks God for his countless blessings, which include children and grandchildren. For those unfamiliar with Andreas’ personal journey, his time honoured reputation is capitalised on in more than six decades of delivering beautifully crafted, fully bespoke shirts that are certainly a cut above the rest.

Find the full interview with Andreas Dometakis on Culturescope Season 2 Episode 3 on Cyprus Mail’s Good Living portal from July 12