Tue Sep 1, 2009 4:23pm EDT

BOSTON, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Billionaire investor George Soros, long celebrated for his shrewd market picks, proved his acumen anew in the last year when his firm’s assets surged 41 percent while most rivals’ assets tumbled.

According to data compiled by AR, a new hedge fund magazine, Soros Fund Management oversaw $24 billion in assets on July 1, 41.18 percent more than the New York-based firm managed 12 months earlier.

Bridgewater Associates, the biggest U.S. hedge fund, lost 14.95 percent in assets over the last 12 months, cutting its assets under management to $37 billion, the magazine reported.

Other prominent firms suffered even sharper declines in assets when investors punished managers for poor returns by pulling their money out and markets stumbled.

Hedge fund firm Renaissance Technologies, for example, saw its assets under management shrink 41.38 percent to $17 billion, the magazine reported.

Soros, who famously earned $1 billion by betting against the British pound in 1992, had warned about last year’s financial crisis before it happened and was able to benefit from it, people who know him said.

His flagship Quantum Endowment fund gained nearly 10 percent in 2008 when the average hedge fund lost 19 percent.

Last year, Soros, who often ranks among the hedge fund industry’s best-paid managers, again made the top of the list when he took home $1.1 billion.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Chang)