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When visitors arrive at Singapore's Changi Airport, they get both an immigration card and an application form for opening a hedge fund.

This was one of the jokes making the rounds in 2007. The fact is that hedge funds in Singapore were growing fast since 2006. According to an article dated Feb 2007 from eFinancialCareers, "prime brokers are in hiring mode" - Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley and UBS all hired for their Singapore prime brokerage operations in 2006.

By Nov 2007, Singapore serves as prime broking regional headquarters for Credit Suisse Group, Citigroup Inc and Barclays Capital plc, according to HedgeFund Intelligence. Citigroup and Morgan Stanley also opened Singapore prime brokerage offices in 2007, to service the fast-growing number of hedge funds in that market. Morgan Stanley, the top Singaporean prime broker by assets under management according to Eurekahedge, had previously been servicing its Singapore clients from Hong Kong.

As the growth of hedge funds slowed down due to the credit crisis, an article (download pdf) dated Feb 2008 pointed out that "their (referring to the prime brokers in Singapore) enthusiasm for growth is now waning". As reported on Oct 4th, 2008, Morgan Stanley is looking at scaling back its prime-brokerage operation (detail). However others believe that "Asian hedge funds may be cold, but the Asian prime brokerage industry remains sizzling"(FINalternatives), indicated by Citi's move to add eight professionals to four Asia offices in Aug 2008, including transferring Danielle Vint to handle the prime brokerage's fixed-income desk in Singapore.

It is said that Citi has fired "the latest salvo in the prime brokerage talent wars in Asia". In Feb 2008, Merrill Lynch hired Aussie hedge fund CEO Jeffrey Levy for Asia prime brokerage, to join the firm's Singapore office. Levy's hire fills the hole left by Harvey Twomey, who left Merrill Lynch to join Deutsche Bank as head of global prime finance sales in Asia. Another source reports that in Sep 2008, Deutsche Bank has moved Chris Pagan (LinkedIn) from Hong Kong to Singapore in order to head prime brokerage for Southeast Asia.

by Yifei Huang

Interested in learning more about the hedge fund industry in Singapore? Please see our geographical guide on this region: Singapore Hedge Fund Guide.

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Tags: Singapore Prime Brokerage, Prime Brokers in Singapore, hedge fund, hedge funds, Securities Lending in Singapore, Prime Brokerage Firms in Singapore, investments

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