Investment Insights

Jeff Benjamin

Fund of hedge funds aims to profit from green movement

Bookbinder's TerraVerde to invest in clean-energy, clean-tech companies

Jul 31, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

It was only a matter of time before the green-investing movement reached the hedge fund industry, and you can now credit Bookbinder Capital Management LLC with breaking the ice.

On July 1, the New York-based company launched TerraVerde Capital Partners LLC, a fund of hedge funds designed to take advantage of the various swings unfolding in the green-investing and alternative-energy arena. The fund, which can best be described as fledgling at this point, is expected to allocate assets to about a dozen underlying hedge funds that fit a broad definition of “green,” according to Richard Bookbinder, managing member of the firm.

“We're looking at funds that invest in anything that serves to reduce the carbon footprint,” he said. “Our managers are dedicated to trading companies involved in clean energy and clean technology, and all the strategies are interrelated.”

It is too early to know if investors will jump aboard such an unproved strategy, but Mr. Bookbinder insists that the market is ready, and he added that making money is still the fund's first goal.

“At the end of the day, investors' motivations won't be any different than ours,” he said. “We're both looking for positive returns.”

Mr. Bookbinder might be onto something, said Thomas Orecchio, principal of Modera Wealth Management in Old Tappan, N.J.

“We are getting a lot of requests from clients for this type of thing,” said Mr. Orecchio, whose firm oversees $420 million in assets. “Of course, we would be very cautious about moving into this space, because as long as fossil fuels are inexpensive, there's going to be very little money going into the development of alternative energy.”

Mr. Bookbinder, who spent two years developing the strategy, has identified more than 100 hedge funds that fit TerraVerde's investment profile. In doing that research, he sought input from money managers as well as from politicians, scientists and engineers.

While the underlying funds are not specifically sold as green, they fit the category because they provide exposure to everything from carbon emission credit trading to alternative-energy technology, Mr. Bookbinder said.

Citing public-disclosure restrictions related to hedge funds, he declined to reveal the underlying funds or the amount of money TerraVerde has raised.

The fund has a $1 million minimum-investment requirement and charges a 1% management fee, plus a 10% performance fee.

While Mr. Bookbinder expects the fund to appeal to investors with a passion for saving the planet, he said his main objective is to generate positive returns.

“I don't wear Birkenstocks, I didn't go to Woodstock, and I don't drive a Prius,” he said. “But as we look at the green space, we see tremendous opportunities.”

But even with a pragmatic approach to the green movement, Mr. Bookbinder isn't completely immune to the tree hugger movement.

“There's a real problem out there, and as the global economy starts to recover, there will be an increase in greenhouse gas emissions,” he said. “Climate change is a real game changer.”

Mr. Bookbinder also supports the controversial cap-and-trade legislation that is designed to limit carbon emissions through taxation.

“We think that's a positive for us because it calls into question what is going on on this planet,” he said. “That's what our strategy is all about.”

Part of that changing game is likely to include a flood of new businesses and industries expanding into the environmental and alternative-energy area.

And as in any developing movement, there will be winners and losers, which is where the investment opportunities reside, Mr. Bookbinder said.

“Short-selling opportunities will exist because many of these green companies are not going to make it, and that's why the opportunity to make money in this space is greater in a hedge fund format than it is in a long-only format,” he said. “We think we're going to find a real benefit by investing in these strategies.”

A new Investment Insights column appears every Monday on E-mail Jeff Benjamin at


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Upcoming Event

Apr 30


Retirement Income Summit

Join InvestmentNews at the 12th annual Retirement Income Summit - the industry's premier retirement planning conference.Much has changed - and much remains to be learned. Attend and discuss how the future is full of opportunity for ... Learn more

Featured video


Building digital relationships with a human touch

The word "robo" has stopped being a four-letter word for financial advisers. But how can it be an asset? Quovo's Jeff Hendren explains.

Video Spotlight

Will It Last As Long As Your Clients Do?

Sponsored by Prudential

Video Spotlight

The Catalyst

Sponsored by Pershing

Latest news & opinion

Brian Block denies cooking the books at Schorsch REIT

Former CFO claims everything he did was 'appropriate' and 'correct.'

Interns will take on several roles at advisory firms this summer

College students are helping with client prep, firm visioning and long-term projects, among other duties.

10 funds with largest 3-year outflows

Even well-managed funds that have beaten the S&P 500’s 10.1% average annual gain have watched investors flee.

Wirehouse training programs are back

At one time, major brokerage houses ran large, expensive training programs for thousands of young brokers, and now it looks as if they are about to return to that model.

New military pension rules need financial advisers to step up and serve

Matching defined contribution plan expected to see more money, more need for sound advice.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print