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Derivatives

Standard Bank Plans Asia Buildup

South Africa's Standard Bank is gearing up for a major push into Asia across asset classes following a senior transfer.

South Africa's Standard Bank is gearing up for a major push into Asia across asset classes following a senior transfer. Michele Maffei, managing director and head of global markets for Asia, in Hong Kong, has transferred from London where he was running the global rates business to revamp the Asian operation. Prior to joining Standard in 2003, Maffei was managing director and head of emerging-market credit derivatives and structured products marketing at JPMorgan in London.

"The bank is taking Asia quite seriously and has brought in new leadership across all its business divisions," said Maffei. The firm re-established an interest rate trading desk earlier this month and has hired Abbie Yip, a trader at SG Corporate & Investment Banking and Chong Wen Kuang, a trader at HVB Asia, for the effort. Maffei said the firm will likely recruit 6-10 staff this year for sales and trading in areas such as rates and equity derivatives and is planning to kick start a small credit derivatives trading desk as well.

Initially, the derivatives trading units will focus primarily on prop trading as the firm develops its customer base. "We are a client-centric bank but our experience in building these businesses in Europe and America has shown that we need to think about risk like a hedge fund in order to build the client business," he added.

The bank will also look to offer niche investment products such as notes linked to Turkey, Africa or Latin America, access products for India and China, as well as launch warrants in Hong Kong on less liquid names. It will also target clients off the radar screen of other houses, such as smaller financial institutions looking for asset or liability management as well as emerging-market customers. "Standard Bank has a healthy risk appetite: for market, counterparty and credit," said Maffei.

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