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Retired LI hedge fund exec earns $2.1B

James Simons at the new Simons Center for

James Simons at the new Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at the Stony Brook University. (Oct. 26, 2010) Photo Credit: John Dunn, 2010

Three Long Island hedge fund executives are among the best-compensated in the world, with a combined income of $2.35 billion last year, a new published report says.

The three fund managers drew their earnings at Renaissance Technologies, in East Setauket, with $20 billion in assets, Forbes magazine says in its list of the top 40 hedge fund earners. Renaissance funds earned net returns as high as 33 percent in 2011, the report said.

The list included hedge fund managers from Hong Kong, Switzerland, London, Singapore and the U.S. Most were in the metro New York City area.

Ranked second with $2.1 billion earnings is the Renaissance founder James Simons, 73, a former math professor at Stony Brook University who is retired as chief executive -- but still active on the hedge fund's board.

In a tie for 16th are the co-chief executives at Renaissance, Peter Brown and Robert Mercer, who each earned about $125 million. Renaissance is a so-called quant, or quantitative, fund, with a strategy based on mathematical formulas.

Brown is "talkative and competitive, he's socially liberal and fiscally conservative, owns one home and drives a Prius," Forbes says. "He wrote a computer program to seat people at his wedding. Has ridden a unicycle in the office. Is the son of Henry Brown, who invented the money-market fund."

Mercer, a "former IBM language recognition specialist, joined Renaissance in 1993," the report said, adding: "politically conservative . . . Has huge model train in home basement."

Another Long Island-linked fund manager, Carl Icahn, 76, of Icahn Capital Management, made the list, at #3. He earned $2 billion in 2011, some of it from his very profitable minority stake in Melville-based Hain Celestial Group. "His fund was up 35 percent thanks to successful bets on companies like Motorola Mobility and El Paso," Forbes said.

Topping the list, with $3 billion compensation, was Ray Dalio, 62, of Bridgewater Associates, in Westport, Conn. Forbes says, "his methods are controversial and include videotaping meetings and encouraging brutal honesty among staffers. This tactic has paid off handsomely during the recent market turmoil."

Photo: James Simons at the new Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at the Stony Brook University.

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