What is a 'Feeder Fund'

A feeder fund is one of a number of funds that all put investment capital into an overarching umbrella fund that is called the master fund, for which one investment advisor handles all portfolio investments and trading. The two-tiered investment structure of a feeder fund and a master fund is commonly used by hedge funds as a means of assembling a larger portfolio account by pooling investment capital. Profits from the master fund are then split, or distributed, proportionately to the feeder funds based on the percentage of investment capital they have contributed to the master fund.

BREAKING DOWN 'Feeder Fund'

In a feeder fund arrangement, all management fees and any performance fees due are paid by investors at the feeder fund level.

The primary purpose served by the feeder fund-master fund structure is reduction of trading costs and overall operating costs. The master fund effectively achieves economies of scale through having access to the large pool of investment capital provided by a number of feeder funds, which enables it to operate less expensively than would be possible for any of the feeder funds investing on their own.

The use of this two-tiered fund structure can be very advantageous when the feeder funds share common investment goals and strategies, but are not appropriate for a feeder fund with a unique investment strategy or aim, since those unique characteristics would be lost in the combination with other funds within a master fund.

Structure of Feeder Funds and Master Funds

The feeder funds that invest capital in a master fund operate as separate legal entities from the master fund, and may be invested in more than one master fund. Various feeder funds invested in a master fund often differ substantially from one another in terms of things such as expense fees or investment minimums, and do not usually have identical net asset values (NAV). In the same way that a feeder fund is free to invest in more than one master fund, a master fund is likewise free to accept investments from a number of feeder funds.

In regard to feeder funds operating in the United States, it is common for the master fund to be established as an offshore entity. This frees up the master fund to accept investment capital from both tax-exempt and U.S.-taxable investors. If, however, an offshore master fund elects to be taxed as a partnership or limited liability company (LLC) for U.S. tax purposes, then onshore feeder funds receive pass-through treatment of their share of the master fund's gains or losses, thus avoiding double taxation.

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