BOSTON, April 27 (Reuters) - Assets managed by the largest hedge funds slipped last year, marking the first calendar year decline since the financial crisis, according to a new survey by data and news provider Hedge Fund Intelligence.
The twice-annual Billion Dollar Club report, released on Thursday, showed that the largest 309 hedge funds oversaw assets of $1.87 trillion at the beginning of January 2017, marking a 0.19 percent contraction from a year earlier in January 2016.
More than half of the hedge funds that manage more than $1 billion saw their assets contract last year, also a first since the financial crisis.
The data track roughly two-thirds of the entire hedge fund universe which is generally estimated to oversee $3 trillion. It illustrates the difficulties the industry has been having as investors like pension funds are pulling money out in response to hedge funds' lackluster returns and high fees.
The biggest decline in assets was seen at Och-Ziff Capital Management, one of only a handful of publicly traded hedge funds. Assets dropped by $11.1 billion to $33.5 billion in January 2017, the survey said.
The company last year settled charges with the U.S. Justice Department that alleged some employees had bribed officials in Africa. A number of pension funds, including the state of Rhode Island, dropped the firm as they pulled back their exposure to hedge funds.
York Capital Management saw its assets drop to $16.2 billion from $22.3 billion. Paulson & Co, one of a number of hedge funds to lose a lot of money on pharmaceutical company Valeant , saw its assets drop to $9.82 billion from $14.21 billion, the survey reported.
But there were winners as well.
Bridgewater Associates, retained its spot as the biggest hedge fund, as its assets climbed to $122.3 billion from $104.2 billion a year ago.
Representatives for the funds either declined to comment or did not respond to requests seeking comment.
Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss