Bear Stearns has launched an fx derivatives trading desk in Asia and is looking to bulk up the effort with hires in the coming months. To spearhead the initiative the firm has hired Stanley Zau, head of fixed income, fx and derivatives trading for non-Japan Asia at Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, in a new role as head of fx trading for Asia.
"This is part of our systematic expansion in Asia--fx is the next step," said Leonard Feder, Asian head of derivatives and branch manager for Japan, explaining that the firm has been building across asset classes in the region. "We're on the road to becoming a full-service provider as we hire additional staff."
Previously, the firm facilitated fx-linked trading for Asian clients from night desks in New York and London. But as the firm has been looking to increase its presence in the region, it needed to establish trading in local time. Feder said the firm will look to hire about eight sales and trading staff for the fx unit in Hong Kong before year-end. The firm will target new customers in the region once the additional hires are on board. He declined comment on specific types of clients Bear Stearns is aiming for or how the firm will carve a niche for itself.
Bankers said that while Bear Stearns may have difficulties breaking into the flow fx business against established banks, the firm should be able to make its mark structuring exotic products, given its strength in this area in other asset classes.
The firm has been on a tear in the region, looking to diversify revenue sources outside of the U.S. It has recruited over 50 staff in Asia in the last year or so and has also established a Hong Kong equity derivatives desk (DW, 3/18/05).