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What are arbitrage funds?

Are arbitrage funds better investment?


An arbitrage fund - a type of equity mutual fund - rides on the mispricing between the cash markets or spot markets on the one hand and derivatives or futures markets on the other. Arbitrage funds mainly take the advantage of instability in the market, that is if one stock is unit is trading at 1000 in the cash market but at 1500 in the futures market , therefore 500 of profit is made by buying from cash market and selling in futures market. Risk involved: The risk involved is very less since lot of speculation is involved while trading internally in different markets. Only when the market is stable, that is the stock units are traded equally in both the markets the returns are less.

Returns expected: When it comes to returns, arbitrage funds can fetch returns of 5-6%. But arbitrage funds are tax-free if redeemed after a year of investment. Bank FDs can fetch 6-7% and liquid funds somewhere between 6% and 8%.

Following is the list of top returns arbitrage funds based on 1 year returns:

1) ICICI Pru Blended Plan-B-Direct (G) - 10.7%

2) ICICI Pru Blended Plan - B (G)- 10.6%

3) IDFC Arbitrage Plus-B (G)-7.8%

4) Edelweiss Equity Savings Adv.-DP (D)-7%

5) ICICI Pru Blended Plan-A-Direct (G)-6.8%

Pijush Kanti Biswas

Arbitrage fund is a type of equity mutual fund, takes advantage of differential pricing between the cash and futures (derivatives) markets to generate return on investment, as long as the derivatives are trading at decent premium.

To understand this, consider a firm’s share is trading at ₹100 in cash market and ₹120 in the derivative market. So, you can make profit by buying the share in cash market and sell it in derivatives market. This mispricing is the crux of arbitrage fund. The fund managers here reduce the risk of equities by hedging against the derivatives. 

Characteristics of Arbitrage funds:

  1. Fund manager in arbitrage funds, reduce the risk of stocks by hedging against the derivatives
  2. These funds hold more than 65% investment in equity
  3. These funds are safe and bring almost risk-free returns to the investors as compared to other equity based instruments. Good option for investors with low risk appetite.
  4. Rides on market inefficiencies and volatility to capture good return for the investors. More the market wobble more the mispricing and hence more will be the returns.
  5. Suitable for long term investors.
  6. Returns on investing in arbitrage funds is around 6-9%.
  7. Tax benefits:
  • If the funds are hold over 1 year, returns from these funds are tax free.
  • The dividends on these funds are also tax free.

Few example of arbitrage fund:

  • ICICI Prudential Equity - Arbitrage Fund
  • Kotak Equity Arbitrage Fund
  • HDFC Arbitrage Fund - Retail

So, an arbitrage is best investment option in highly volatile and unstable stock market to capture rich dividends and returns. But being equity based, they involve certain amount risk.

Happy Investing!

Arpit Chandak

The share price of a company can be different on different exchanges such as NSE and BSE. You can buy shares of a company from one exchange and sell them on another exchange at slightly higher prices.The funds which gain from this price difference are known as arbitrage funds.

  • Arbitrage means buying and selling of shares in different markets simultaneously. For example, you can buy stocks in cash market and sell them in derivatives market (F&O).
  • In the cash market, investors can buy or sell the shares at the market price and get the full ownership of the stocks i.e. delivery.  On the other hand, in the derivatives market, both the buyer and seller of the shares entered into a contract to buy or sell that security at a certain fixed price at a certain date in future.
  • Fund manager tries to gain from the price differentials in the different market.
  • They hold opposite positions in different markets.

Profit calculation:

For example, if you buy 200 shares of a XYZ stock at Rs.1000 in cash market and suppose the same stock is traded at Rs.1010 in future market. If you are able to sell the same amount of stocks in future market at Rs. 1010, you have developed an arbitrage opportunity. Derivatives stocks settles with the cash market on the expiry date of the contract.

If the stock price rises to Rs. 1020:

Profit/Loss: Rs. 4000(profit in cash market) – Rs. 2000(loss in futures market)

Net Profit: Rs. 2000

If the stock price falls to Rs. 900:

Profit/Loss: Rs. 4000(profit in futures market) – Rs. 2000 (loss in cash market)

Net Profit: Rs. 2000

In the above case, we have seen that you have gain profits in both the conditions either the price go up or down, you will end up making profits in arbitrage funds.

Top performing arbitrage funds:


Arbitrage Funds take opposite positions in different markets / securities, such that the risk is neutralized, but a return is earned. For instance, by buying a share in BSE, and simultaneously selling the same share in the NSE at a higher price.

Most arbitrage funds take contrary positions between the equity market and the futures and options market. (‘Futures’ and ‘Options’ are commonly referred to as derivatives. These are designed to help investors to take positions or protect their risk in some other security, such as an equity share. They are traded in exchanges like the NSE and the BSE.

Although these schemes invest in equity markets, the expected returns are in line with liquid funds. Also the risk in these funds is much lower than other equity schemes because these funds only look for the differences in price in 2 different markets and try to profit from the difference in the price. Therefore, the benchmark for an arbitrage fund is generally a short term money market index (most of the funds use CRISIL Liquid Fund Index as their benchmark), although these are categorized as equity schemes.

 Arbitrage funds are not meant for equity risk exposure, but to lock into a better risk-return relationship than liquid funds – and ride on the tax benefits that equity schemes offer.

Also investors must keep in mind that over the years, returns from these fund have fallen down considerable because of huge inflows into these funds over the last 5 years. For better returns and higher risk investor may look at debt and other types of equity funds.

Some of the top performing Arbitrage funds are:

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