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Former Enron Corp. energy trader John Arnold is closing down his flagship Centaurus Energy Master Hedge Fund, which is returning capital to investors. Arnold, a billionaire more than three times over, and his wife Laura will be focusing on philanthropic interests. Houston-based Centaurus has been one of the most successful hedge funds in the industry, delivering a compound annual return of about 130% since it was founded by Arnold in 2002 after the collapse of Enron. In Wall Street circles Arnold has been known to some as the "king of natural gas." He and his wife will be considered royalty among philanthropists, running a $700 million foundation they founded in 2008. According to Forbes, Arnold has a personal fortune of about $3 billion as of March, putting him at No. 377 on the magazine's list of billionaires. "In the past ten years, we have achieved more success than I could have hoped for or imagined. However, after 17 years as an energy trader, I feel that it's time to pursue other interests," the 38-year-old Arnold wrote to investors in a letter obtained by NGI. A Centaurus representative said there would be no comment on Arnold's departure from the energy trading scene. A trading star at Enron, Arnold cut a large profile in hedge fund circles after his employer's collapse. However, since the heady days of high volatility in gas markets, things have calmed quite a bit. An abundance of gas supply, thanks to shale plays, and tighter regulations on commodity speculation have made the trading game less of a thrill for Arnold and his kind. In 2011 the fund was fined $75,000 by the New York Mercantile Exchange for violating position limits in natural gas trading (see NGI, Jan. 2). Arnold founded Centaurus with an $8 million employee bonus from Enron. Centaurus employees have included several big name energy traders such as ex-Enron executive Greg Whalley, as well as Bill Perkins, Mike Magg and Conrad Goerl, previously of MotherRock.

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