Singapore Hedge Fund

Alternative asset management in Singapore

Recruitment starting again for hedge funds based in Singapore and Hong Kong.

From, some good news on Asian Hedge Funds with new activity noted in Singapore and Hong Kong. The dark days may at last be over for Asia’s hedge fund sector, but recruitment is still selective, senior and sales-focused, with a real recovery not expected until next year.

Hedge funds are making a minor comeback after suffering their worst year on record in 2008, outperforming global benchmarks and experiencing an inflow of new assets, according to data provider Eurekahedge.

Asia has experienced a lot of the recent action. Winton Capital Management, for example, is starting a new fund in Japan and hiring staff in Hong Kong – its expansion coming just months after rivals like GSO Capital Partners, HBK and Ramius retreated from the region.

And ex-bankers are seizing the opportunity to start up their own firms in Asia. The list of budding fund managers includes: Nick Taylor, ex-head of Citadel Investment’s principal investments business in Asia and Europe; Shafiq Karmali, a former Goldman Sachs trader; and Edwin Wong, previously a Lehman Brothers MD.

Hedge fund recruitment is for now small-scale and focused on the front office. Jared Ng, regional consulting director, PeopleSearch explains: “Because short-term revenue is essential for the survival of companies to meet their short-term liability, revenue-generating jobs are more in demand. As a result, there have been more openings for sales positions.”

Peter Douglas, Asia Pacific council member for the Alternative Investment Management Association, says funds want experienced professionals who can hit the ground running. “In Singapore, Artradis, for example, has been taking on some senior people, basically taking advantage of a cyclical opportunity to add talent that’s now available,” he adds.

Funds that have not been so badly affected by the financial crisis are starting to recruit again after lying low for the past nine months, says Angela Kuek, manager, banking and financial services at Hudson in Singapore.

Douglas thinks the current fund inflows in Asia are coming mainly from specialist investors. The “real volume” is likely to return next year when more capital enters the market. “Asset size directly drives revenues and therefore the capacity and inclination to hire,” he adds.

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Nomura plans global prime broking business to serve Hedge Fund

Japan’s Nomura Holdings  plans to launch a global prime brokerage business by September as the financial crisis has created room for new players to serve hedge funds, a senior executive said on Monday.

“We think prime brokerage is a very interesting opportunity because of what happened in the industry this past year,” Siggi Thorkelsson, Nomura’s head of equities Asia-Pacific, told Reuters in an interview.

Prime brokerages offer services such as clearing, securities lending and financing for assets to hedge funds. Banks such as Goldman Sachs  and Morgan Stanley have historically dominated the business.

Thorkelsson said Nomura historically has not been present in the prime broking space.

“It used to the case that the barriers to entry were very high as there were a couple of firms that dominated the market. Now those firms have lost a lot of the market share and there’s market share to be gained there,” he said.

The hedge fund industry suffered record redemptions last year, fuelled by weak performance exacerbated by a meltdown in financial markets last fall.

“The tide seems to have turned there. There are have been a number of firms that have done extremely well and those hedge funds will be the biggest beneficiaries of a less crowded market place in the coming years,” Thorkelsson said.

Nomura, which took over the European, Middle Eastern and Asian units of bankrupt Lehman Brothers, is also looking to increase its market share in Asia in electronic trading, derivatives and convertible securities.

“Our ambition for Asia is to be in the top three to five in terms market share and we are not there yet,” Thorkelsson said, adding the firm is in the top 10.

Currently Asia excluding Japan accounts for 30 percent of its Asia-Pacific equities business and the firm plans to grow that share to 50 percent in one and half years, he said. He did not provide figures.

“Most important markets for us in the medium-to-long term are China and India and in the immediate term, Hong Kong and Singapore are the main areas of focus.”

With Reuters

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Viathon Capital Launches New Credit Hedge Fund

I know it’s in the US but I always like a new “credit opportunity fund”…

Viathon Capital, LP has officially launched the Whitewater Master Fund, LP, a credit opportunity fund focused on non-correlated absolute returns.

Employing a fundamental, credit-intensive research process in order to identify long and short investment opportunities in the United States and Europe, the hedge fund’s objective is to seek long term capital appreciation by investing in high yield and investment grade corporate bonds and bank debt.

As part of this launch, Viathon Capital has affiliates of Citigroup Alternative Investments, LLC (CAI) as its seed investor in this new fund. The fund launched in May of 2009 with $50 million in capital and had a net return of +0.92 % for the month of May and estimates +2.10% for June bringing it’s inception to date return to approximately +3.02%.

Viathon Capital’s team includes four investment professionals and two
trade support/back office personnel with backgrounds from Marathon Asset Management,
Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Neuberger Berman, SAC/Sigma, Providence Investment
Management and Lehman Brothers.

Big Thank You to Hedge Fund World for the news

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big potential in Asia debt: Hedge Fund to cash in…

NEW YORK (Reuters) – As hard-hit Western banks and hedge funds scramble to sell their Asian loans and bonds, one newcomer expects to pick up these choice assets at rarely seen discounts.

Opvs Group is launching two Asia-focused credit funds designed to benefit from the region’s underlying growth potential by acquiring debt at prices depressed by the global financial crisis.

That’s a classic opportunity, said Barry Dick, who left Merrill Lynch last year as its Asia head of debt products distribution and co-founded Opvs.

“Asia has been sold off in line with the rest of the world. It really looks like a case of the baby thrown out with the bathwater,” Dick said in an interview.

Dick founded the Singapore-based firm with three other Asia veterans: Chris Francis, who ran Asian credit and later equities research at Merrill; Sandeep Gill, former global credit derivatives head at DBS Group Holdings Ltd; and Tommy Kim, co-founder of Singapore-based HFG Investments Pte.

This team spent the past year building a 25-person firm that will be dedicated to the region and, for now, one asset class.

“There are a lot of boutique operations in the region — five guys in a garage and a prime broker — but we wanted to build a large asset management company, the best in Asia, with very specialized investment teams.”

Opvs is rolling out two funds in the coming month.

First will be the Opus Asia Opportunity Fund, which will snap up loans from closely held, high-growth companies in a region reaching from China, Japan and Southeast Asia to India and Australia.

It has been seeded with $50 million and will complete its first round of fund-raising on Tuesday, but will continue adding money through the fall.

The fund will hold these credits until maturity, with proceeds paid out as distributions after one year and then every six months until all the loans mature.

Later next month Opvs will launch Fundamental Asia Credit Fund with $50 million initially and growing to a maximum $300 million. The fund will invest in highly liquid and publicly traded bonds and short bonds through the swaps market.

In a sign of the times, both funds will provide shareholders with Internet access to their portfolio holdings.

In contrast to just a year or two ago, when Asia was a top priority for every Western bank and fund manager, the fast growing region has become a lot less crowded. These same investors have been forced to shed portfolio holdings and often turn first to their Asian assets.

The potential returns on these investments are high, Opvs says, because loans extended by big banks like Merrill, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley during the boom years of 2005 through 2007 are now being sold off at fire-sale prices.

In recent months, emerging markets funds have become a hot item in the hedge fund community. Still, for the relative few prepared to step in today, what was a sellers’ market quickly has became bargain city.

“There’s been a big shakeout since the credit crunch,” Francis said. “That’s left us in a situation where there is an excess of sellers of credit, or people holding credit, but not a lot of people who have balance sheets to take up that capacity.”

Jean Viry-Babel
senior partner
VBK partners

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