March 23, 2016 / 3:45 PM / 4 years ago

Steven Cohen's Point72 asset manager eyes Asia expansion

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire Steven A. Cohen, long a major investor in U.S. stocks, is looking for more opportunities overseas and is beefing up his management team in Asia, his top deputy said.

Hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, founder and chairman of SAC Capital Advisors, responds to a question during a one-on-one interview session at the SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Point72 Asset Management, which manages roughly $11 billion for Cohen and a handful of others, recently said it hired Ray Shu, who had previously worked with Cohen, as a portfolio manager in Hong Kong. The firm has also hired Sonia Yu from JP Morgan as head of talent development, based in Hong Kong.

Point72 took over SAC Capital Advisors, Cohen’s hedge fund firm, after SAC pleaded guilty to securities fraud in an insider-trading settlement with U.S. regulators that also included a $1.8 billion fine.

The firm, now managing mainly the Cohen family fortune, was forced to return outside investors’ money as part of the settlement with regulators but is still a major force in stock trading, putting on thousands of positions every quarter.

The new name is a play on the firm’s address at 72 Cummings Point Road in Stamford, Connecticut.

It also has offices in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore and has considered opening in China, Point72 President Douglas Haynes said in a recent interview in Stamford.

“We have thought of opening a research office in either Shanghai or Beijing,” he said, as the firm considers expanding its footprint as more of its trading is being done in foreign securities.

“Of the capital deployed in our long/short business, about a third is deployed in Asian companies listed on the Tokyo, Hong Kong and U.S. exchanges. We have some, but a small, exposure to the Shanghai Exchange through the Direct Connect facilities in Hong Kong,” Haynes said

As someone who has lived overseas and owns a passport that he said is 1-1/2 inches thick, Haynes said he believed in giving staff a more international flavor.

Lindsay Taylor, a portfolio manager who was trading in the United States, is also moving to Singapore. And for the first time, the company is sending a public relations executive, Molly Binenfeld, to Hong Kong.

“We learn by doing, not by watching,” Haynes said.

Like other investment firms, Point72 has struggled this year, facing losses as markets have bounced around dramatically. Last year, the firm gained 15 percent when other hedge funds lost money and Haynes expects performance to turn around.

“Markets haven’t behaved according to fundamentals,” Haynes said, describing the first three months of 2016. But once they return, Haynes said, “our performance will come right back.”

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Bill Rigby

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