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UBS in talks with prop. traders setting up hedge funds, continues Asia PB expansion with 11 hires this year

Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, has been one of the most active prime brokerages in Asia Pacific, with new hires across the board from capital sales through to I.T. and legal. Eleven professionals have already joined, with UBS’s Global Head of Prime Services, Stuart Hendel, telling Reuters that the firm also had plans to expand market share in the U.S. as well as appoint a senior banker to head up its prime brokerage operations in Zurich, Switzerland. “We've bulked up our staffing and our resources in the region,” said Hendel, who worked previously for 18 years at Morgan Stanley. The level of activity in Asia reflects the steady growth in its hedge fund industry, with Hong Kong and Singapore having already attracted over 50 new start-ups in 2010. New assets have risen nearly 100 per cent year-on-year, attracting USD2.1 billion compared to 2009’s paltry USD1.1 billion.
And as prop trading desks begin to wind down in the U.S. these figures could well continue trending upwards. UBS confirmed that it had been in talks with “dozens” of proprietary traders worldwide, with Hendel telling Bloomberg that “a lot of it is just talk and chatter, but there are very advanced discussions as well.” Even though start-up numbers are up in Asia, there a lot of small hedge funds fighting to stay afloat as the competition to secure investor capital gets ever harder – Hedgeweek reporting last week that Singapore’s Amoeba Capital has become the latest victim of tough conditions. Speaking to Bloomberg at the recent UBS hedge fund conference in Singapore, Asia Pacific Head of Prime Services, David Gray, said: “What we’re seeing is probably an evolution, Darwinian in a way.”

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