Singapore Hedge Fund

Alternative asset management in Singapore

Finance Jobs in Asia going back to boom time?

HONG KONG — Marco Wong lost his job with Citigroup in Singapore in mid-January. During all the turmoil that engulfed the financial world last year, the cutbacks at the U.S. banking giant were neither unique nor surprising.

Still, Mr. Wong says, Citigroup’s decision not to renew his contract shortly before it was due to end “came as quite a shock.”

But 20 job applications, four interviews and three and a half months later, Mr. Wong was again gainfully employed — as a financial consultant at IPP Financial Advisors in Hong Kong.

Asia has already emerged more forcefully from recession than the United States and Europe, economic reports over the past month have shown. Now, that upturn here is starting — at least tentatively and in certain sectors — to feed into the job market. Hiring is starting to pick up again, recruiters and bankers say.

Broad unemployment is still rising, a normal pattern even after economies begin to emerge from recession. But economists say that any early signs of job growth are a prerequisite for a more solid-based recovery — one in which more confident consumers, and not just huge government stimulus packages, can play a role in lifting the economy.

Perhaps the most striking element in the new hiring: Almost a year after Lehman Brothers folded — roiling financial markets, spurring a remake of the banking landscape and feeding one of the worst recessions in modern history — it is the financial sector that is leading the way.

“The death of the industry has been greatly exaggerated,” said Matthew Hoyle, founder of Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets, a specialist headhunter for the banking and hedge fund industries, based in Hong Kong. “I am actually quite excited about the prospects for the rest of the year.”

“Things have picked up here — unlike in Europe and the U.S., where that’s absolutely not the case,” he added.

To be sure, the recovery in Asia is tenuous, and highly dependent on a recovery in the West, a major market for the region’s export-driven economies. But for now, the picture is brightening.

Jerry Gunnell, a corporate cash management specialist in Singapore, fell victim to Bank of America’s headcount reductions in February. He is now back in the saddle at Standard Chartered, a British bank that does much of its business in Asia, in a somewhat different but equally senior position he took up in mid-June, also in Singapore.

In the past month, several banks have announced plans for some serious hiring in Asia.

Standard Chartered intends to hire about 850 relationship managers for its consumer banking business over the next 18 months, to gain a larger market share of affluent customers in Asia.

HSBC — which, like Standard Chartered, is very active in Asia — is recruiting more than 100 staff members in Hong Kong. In mainland China, it plans to add 1,000 employees this year, and a similar number next year.

Bank of New York Mellon recently announced it would increase its 150-strong Hong Kong staff by another 50 as part of its expansion in Asia.

And ANZ of Australia, which recently bought some Asian operations from Royal Bank of Scotland, the battered British lender, is hiring 100 senior private bankers in the region over the next 18 months.

Several others, including Citigroup, Nomura, Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas, have announced new hires and appointments in recent weeks.

Tales like these highlight the newfound dynamism that is starting to creep back into the Asian job market. While unemployment continues to rise in much of Europe and is expected to top 10 percent in the United States before any improvement materializes, rates in Asia have remained relatively low: 5.4 percent in Hong Kong and 3.3. percent in Singapore.

One relatively weak spot is Japan. The jobless rate hit a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent in July, the highest level since the end of World War II and up from 5.4 percent in June.

But elsewhere, recruitment firms are busy again.

“Last October, after Lehman Brothers collapsed, the lights went out here; it was really quite frightening,” said Nigel Heap, managing director for the recruitment firm Hays in Sydney. “But we’re now cautiously optimistic that the worst is over in places like Hong Kong and Singapore.”

Andrea Williams, managing director of Ambition, a headhunting firm in Hong Kong, said that things started to turn noticeably from April onward.

“During the second quarter of this year, we got in 20 percent more jobs than during the first three months of the year,” Ms. Williams said. “Yes, we’re still below where we were a year earlier, but it’s definitely encouraging.”

A survey in August by Robert Walters, a recruiting firm based in Singapore, showed that job ads in the Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese and Japanese media nudged up 6.4 percent in the April-to-June quarter from the previous three months.

Of course, for the legions of those who lost their jobs and still remain unemployed, or who are still being laid off as some companies continue to struggle, it is too early to celebrate.

“It’s not an across-the-board improvement — it’s pretty patchy in terms of sectors, and in terms of geographies — but things are at least holding steady or even getting better in some parts,” said Darryl Green, who heads Asia Pacific and Middle East operations for Manpower, a temporary employment and recruiting company.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say we were negative during the first half of the year,” he said. “Now, we’re at 0.5 or 1 — not huge, but better, and definitely stronger than in the Americas and Europe.”

Nearly all of the jobs that are coming back are “replacements” of previously cut positions, not new jobs, market experts here say. And employers are still being very cautious and choosy when it comes to hiring.

But increasingly, the champagne is coming back out, as Asia’s economies and stock markets are recovering — faster than expected, and faster than Europe and America.

Demand in the financial sector is strongest for back-office positions like compliance and accounting, as well as client relationship and asset management — a business in which many banks want to expand to tap the growing number of increasingly wealthy Asian savers.

Hedge funds, too, are again looking to increase staff, said Mr. Hoyle in Hong Kong. “A lot of the big U.S. hedge funds retrenched — they are regretting it now.”

Outside the financial sector, there is anecdotal evidence of hiring in other areas, though it is patchy.

Demand for sales jobs, for example, has picked up across all sectors as companies focus their still scarce resources on jobs they hope will help generate immediate revenues.

“Asia is seen as a growth market,” said Mark Ellwood of the Robert Walters recruitment agency, in Singapore. “Companies are not going out all guns blazing again, but there is once again an appetite to hire in certain areas.”

In Hong Kong, Eike Croucher, a communications manager, was laid off from Swiss Re after the reinsurance company announced in April that it would shed 10 percent of its 11,500-strong global work force. Mrs. Croucher had a job offer from the German chemicals giant BASF on the evening of her last day at Swiss Re, thanks to some fast networking.

“I was very, very lucky, of course, that things happened so quickly,” she said.

In another example, one senior marketing executive who lost her Singapore-based job with a large U.S. software company, had been in the region for four years. The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk to the media, found a job at another U.S. company in the same sector. It took 7 weeks of research, 45 applications and a dozen job interviews.

It is still very much an employers’ market. Generous “expat packages” — in which overseas employees have much of their housing and their kids’ schooling paid for — are for many a thing of the past.

The most successful candidates have experience in Asia, a network of contacts and language skills. It is difficult for someone to just pack up and move over from New York or London, where the market remains much gloomier.

“Employers are still being extra, extra selective in their talent search,” said Mark Carriban, the Asia managing director based in Hong Kong for Hudson, a recruiting agency. “And what is very prized out here is local market knowledge.”

In fact, many recruiters are already starting to warn that a “talent crunch” could be only months away, with companies again struggling to find people with the right combination of international qualifications, contacts and languages — of which there is a limited supply.

One piece of advice for job seekers, though easier said than done: “Learn Mandarin,” Mr. Carriban said.

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Korean Firms Found Hedge Fund Platforms in Singapore and Hong Kong

From FINalternatives, news of the build up of hedge fund platforms in Singapore and in Hong Kong.

As the Asian hedge fund industry rises from the ashes of last year’s huge losses and huge redemptions, a number of Korean financial services firms are hoping to play middleman in the resurgent space.

Kookmin Bank, Industrial Bank of Korea, Samsung Securities and Woori Investment & Securities have earmarked more than US$1 billion to build up hedge fund platforms for institutional investors, Asian Investor reports. Woori and Samsung have set up their platforms in Singapore, while Kookmin has opted for Asia’s hedge fund capital, Hong Kong.

Hwang Sung-ho, CEO of Woori I&S, said the firm’s platform is small, but that it is investing substantial resources into building it up. The firm hopes it will be the centerpiece of a multi-asset strategy group.

Woori is also creating a hedge fund index, AI reports.

FINalternatives

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

From efinancialcareers.sg, 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.

efinancialcareers.sg

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Tribridge To Launch New pan-Asia Hedge Fund

Tribridge Investment Partners Ltd., a Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager, said Monday it will launch a new fund in August and hired John Liptak, former head of Bank of America Corp’s Asia special situations group, to run it.

The new fund will have a pan-Asia focus and seek to identify mispriced or undervalued securities due to financial stress, some corporate event or other special situation. It will be biased toward large-cap companies in more developed markets in the region such as Hong Kong, Australia, Korea, Singapore, or Japan.

“I believe that the opportunities from the upcoming default cycle have not been seen since shortly after the Asian currency crisis back in 1997-1998,” Liptak said in prepared remarks.
Citigroup. is the fund’s prime broker and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. is the administrator. Tribridge, founded in 2003, has US$259 million in assets under management in four different funds including a Korea multi-asset fund and three credit funds.

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Overhaul of fund regulations looms in China

From Asian Investor comes the news that in October, China’s National People’s Congress will review a substantial reform of the fund laws proposed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).
Less than six months after taking charge of the fund supervisory division at the CSRC, the new director-general Wu Qing is already making his presence felt in the industry.

Under Wu’s leadership, the division has recently submitted a proposal to the National People’s Congress (NPC) advocating a serious overhaul to the regulations controlling the Rmb2 trillion ($292.8 billion) fund industry in China. On July 6, the NPC called the first financial committee meeting to review the suggested rule changes.

Prior to taking up his role at the fund division, Wu was best known as a ‘risk hawk’ responsible for cleaning up bankrupt securities firms. He was involved in drafting China’s first set of risk disposal rules for the brokerage industry.

Hubert Tse, managing director and head of the international business group at Yuan Tai PRC Attorneys in Shanghai, says depending on the political will and consensus to be gathered at the NPC level, the regulatory review could either result in minor tweaking to the existing securities investment rules, covering issues such as investor protection, fund manager compensation and trading restrictions; or it could be a major overhaul, changing the way the investment industry is regulated in China.

If fully passed, the CSRC will see its regulatory power expand to cover the private fund industry in China. Tse believes the move will be the CSRC’s most forceful attempt yet to create a level playing field between private and mutual funds, and ensure stability in the functioning of the capital markets.

The NPC is expected to vote on the matter in the coming annual gathering in October. If passed, the changes would be implemented by March 2010 at the earliest.

Currently, private funds are not regulated and have benefitted from operating opaque investment structures. They also rob the mutual fund sector of talent; at one point in 2007, private funds were said to be responsible for a 30% turnover in investment staff in the mutual fund sector.

One of the most feted private fund operator is Lv Jun, a former CIO and star manager at China International Fund Management, J.P. Morgan’s asset management joint venture in Shanghai. Lv has since banded with Chung Man-Wing, a former MD at JF Asset Management in Hong Kong and Peter Tang, a portfolio manager in charge of JF’s Taiwan portfolio in founding their Greater China fund.

In 2009, against a background of strong market momentum in the A-share market, private funds have re-emerged as a serious threat to the stability in the mutual fund industry. These funds have handed out handsome perks to lure fund managers who are otherwise attracted to the lack of disclosure in these funds’ daily dealings. Observers have also blamed private funds for creating excessive volatility in the market.

The CSRC has made several attempts to protect the mutual fund industry from private fund threats. It has approved various new lines of business that help the industry to gain ground on the private fund sector.

Further to the segregated mandate business it approved in 2008, it has recently permitted general partnership arrangements in which fund houses can raise funds through quasi-hedge fund setups. Fund houses can tailor-make aggressive investment products specific to clients without disclosing activities in these portfolios to third parties.

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London Mayor: Hedge Fund might leave London for Singapore

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I know, it sounds like a tabloid headline but basicaly not too far from the truth 🙂

Mayor warns EU not to strangle world’s premier financial centre

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today called on the Government to help him resist the EU Commission’s dangerous plans to regulate financial services. He fears that the plans could threaten London’s status as the global capital of financial services, and will result in European investors losing out and seriously damage the capital’s financial services industry. The Mayor fired off his warning directly to Lord Mandelson as he addressed a major economic conference in London, attended by both the Business Secretary and Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne.

Boris Johnson told delegates that he is so concerned he has sought an urgent meeting to personally lobby EU Commissioners and make the case for London. He singled out the EU draft directive on Alternative Investment Fund Management as a measure that would seriously weaken the European marketplace for hedge funds, private equity and venture capital. It will substantially reduce the choices available for investors, put up protectionist barriers around Europe, and give a huge competitive boost to financial centres outside the EU, such as New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Geneva – to Europe and London’s ultimate disadvantage.

In London alone, the private equity and venture capital industry directly employs around 7,000 people and it is estimated a further 35,000 people are employed directly and indirectly by hedge fund managers.  The industries are overwhelmingly based in the capital, with 80 per cent of European hedge funds and 60 per cent of European private equity funds located here. Sources close to the hedge fund industry estimate that their tax contribution alone is around £3 billion per annum. More importantly, many commentators, including EU Commission’s influential report by Jacque de Larosiere, have agreed that the hedge fund industry combined with other alternative funds do not pose a material systemic risk to the financial system as a whole.

The Mayor said: “I support strong and sensible regulation of financial services to prevent a recurrence of the financial crisis that everyone in Europe is now suffering. However, in my book this means regulating at the right level. As financial services are a global business, this must be set at a global level by the G20.

“My greatest worry is that this is just the start of a flood of draft directives that will start to filter out of Brussels. London is the home of hedge funds and private equity, but having a strong hedge fund and private equity industry is not just good for London, it is good for Europe. No other European city’s financial services sector is competing on the same international level as London, and the EU Commission must recognise this. That is why I’ve decided to personally take the lead on this and lobby key figures. London’s main competitors are outside the EU, including New York and Hong Kong, so it’s blatantly obvious that this unilateralist approach will damage our competitiveness.”

The Mayor is keen to ensure that any European regulation of the financial services industry appreciates that London is competing with international cities such as New York, Geneva, Hong Kong and Singapore. As a result the Mayor is calling for more effective international regulation that works across all of the capital’s competitors and for draft EU legislation to assist, not cut across, those efforts. He is encouraging the government to engage much more swiftly before these directives are issued so that the regulation is right for Europe, the UK and London.

The Mayor’s comments were part of a speech on his proposals for London’s economic development, set out in Rising to the Challenge, published in May. The conference, organised by the London Development Agency, is bringing together over 300 leading politicians, business people, commentators and policy makers to discuss and debate the key issues facing London’s economy and to help develop solutions to shape the future of our capital.

In his speech, he called for London to promote more powerfully its position as the world’s undisputed capital of business and ensure that central government work with the city to help keep the capital highly competitive in future. He committed to maintain London as a world-leading low carbon capital, undertake initiatives to improve Londoners’ skills and employability and to continue to invest in projects for London’s long-term economic growth.

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Ex-CLSA Banker Pleads Guilty to Insider Dealing in Hong Kong

We are Migrating the blog here: http://singaporehedgefund.com – faster, better,bigger…….HONG KONG — Securities regulators here scored another criminal conviction for insider trading after an ex-banker at CLSA Equity Capital Markets Ltd. and a former hedge fund manager both pleaded guilty to charges of insider dealing Tuesday.

The two were remanded in jail custody and await sentencing on July 13.

This case is the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission’s eighth conviction for insider trading over the past 12 months, and underscores the watchdog’s recent efforts to toughen up its record. Additional cases are pending.

In pressing its case, the regulator accused Allen Lam, a former CLSA investment banking director, and Ryan Fong, an ex-hedge fund manager at HSZ Ltd., of improperly trading Hong Kong-listed shares of Media Partners International Holdings Inc., an outdoor advertising company based in Shanghai.

According to the regulator, in 2005, the CLSA banker tipped off Fong that a buyer would soon be acquiring a controlling stake in Media Partners, paying a substantial premium to the market price for the shares. At the time, CLSA was acting as the buyer’s financial adviser.

Fong then went about accumulating 10.6 million Media Partner shares at prices ranging between 60 and 83 Hong Kong cents (roughly eight to 11 U.S. cents), the SFC said. The two stayed in contact via email, according to the regulator, using a code, “the French car,” to refer to the deal.

On Sept. 21, JCDecaux Pearl & Dean Ltd., a rival company in Hong Kong, disclosed it would acquire 73.38% of Media Partners at HK$1.141 per share.

After Media Partners’ stock rose, Fong unloaded his shares for nearly HK$1.10, the SFC stated, generating a profit of HK$3.39 million (about US$437,000) for HSZ and pocketing HK$1.03 million himself.

Tuesday’s victory bolsters the SFC’s efforts to crack down on insider trading, which was only made a criminal offense in 2003.

Despite Hong Kong’s role as a financial hub with one of the most liquid stock markets in the region, regulators here have been criticized in the past for lax enforcement of the city’s securities laws. But over the last year and a half, the SFC has gone on the offensive by aggressively pursuing insider trading and other market abuses.

In May, the SFC won one of its biggest victories to date when a Hong Kong court supported the regulator’s request to block a bid to privatize PCCW Ltd., Hong Kong’s dominant telecommunications service provider. The SFC argued that a shareholder vote approving the deal had been rigged. The buyout group, led by PCCW chairman Richard Li, denied the claims and said it would appeal the verdict.

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