Asset manager Marshall Wace has launched the MW Tops Global Alpha, the first equity market neutral exchange-traded fund.

It is the first ETF targeting an absolute return from a single investment strategy and the first ETF in Europe to be run by a dedicated alternative asset manager.

The new vehicle will give investors a combination of access to a proven alpha stream, daily liquidity, targeted low volatility and the ability to deal at NAV in a Ucits-compliant security.

MW Tops Global Alpha will track the performance of the MW Tops Global Alpha Index, which itself will be based on a basket of Marshall Wace’s globally-diversified Tops investment strategies.

The basket will consist of a minimum of six diversified regional Tops sub-components comprising predominantly large-cap equities and equity-related securities in the major global equity indices.

MW Tops Global Alpha will be listed and tradable on the London Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The prospectus has been approved by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority and marketing will begin on 19 January 2010.

Trading in the ETF is expected to begin in late February or early March.

Ian Wace, chief executive of Marshall Wace, says: “We are very excited about this new product, which represents another first for Marshall Wace and continues our record for innovation and leadership.

“The structural advantages of the listed ETF allow a wide range of investors including asset allocators, traditional and long-only investors and corporate treasuries to capture an absolute return stream from a Ucits-compliant security, without the volatility normally associated with equity market investment.”