August 6, 2008 / 3:04 AM / 11 years ago

REFILE-Citigroup expands prime brokerage unit in Asia

(Refiles to change “she” to “he” in ninth paragraph)

HONG KONG, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N) said on Wednesday it added eight positions to its Asia Pacific prime finance unit, which services hedge funds, expanding capacity even as the bear market hammers returns in the sector.

The U.S. banking giant said the new positions are located in Sydney, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong and expand the division to 45 people.

“We are seeing increased demand from our clients across the prime finance business in Asia Pacific,” Hannah Goodwin, head of the division, said in a statement.

The new hires come even as many Asia-Pacific focused hedge funds, which managed about $155 billion in assets at the end of June according to tracking firm Eurekahedge, suffer losses.

After producing five straight years of double-digit percentage gains, the Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Index is down 9.77 percent this year and its Japanese index fell more than 5 percent.

This compares with more modest losses of 0.65 percent for its North American index and 2.5 percent in its global index.

Hedge funds, which typically charge performance fees of 20 percent, aim to generate positive returns in both rising and falling markets.

Citigroup said that earlier this year, it merged the businesses in Japan and the rest of Asia to create one platform serving hedge fund managers that offers swaps, stock loans, prime brokerage and capital introduction services across the region.

The bank said in the statement on Wednesday that in Tokyo, it hired Rosario An as director and head of securities lending. He previously worked at Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) and UBS UBSN.VX and is expected to spearhead Citigroup’s development of a synthetic equity finance platform in Japan.

Sakura Sugibayashi will also join the team in Tokyo from Morgan Stanley (MS.N) as vice president and senior synthetic equity trader.

Maria Hilado has joined Citigroup in Sydney from UBS to work in equity finance.

The bank said she was previously head of prime brokerage operations for UBS in Australia and will service the growing number of Australian domiciled hedge fund managers and the wider Australian investment and pension fund industry.

“With the addition of Maria, Citi’s Australian prime finance team now numbers eight, focusing on stock loan and synthetic trading,” the bank said in a statement.

Citigroup said in Hong Kong, it added Nigel Quy as vice president in funding, Charles Lam as a business development manager, Rob McVie as client service manager and Alison Saito as product development manager. All four were internal transfers, it said.

In Singapore, Danielle Vint has transferred from the bank’s fixed-income desk to the prime finance team to focus on the foreign exchange client side of the business. (Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Jonathan Hopfner)

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