Swiss Re has dipped its toes into the U.S. equity derivatives market for the first time with the launch of a proprietary trading desk. The firm has hired two JPMorgan prop traders, Matt Nadel and Leonardo Mayer, to start the desk, according to officials. This is a major step for the Swiss reinsurer because it has traditionally been regarded as a fixed income player, they said. Nadel, Mayer and Michael McNamara, spokesman in New York, declined comment.
Officials said the success of its U.K.-based convertible bond trading desk, which it set up a couple of years ago, has prompted the move.
Rivals said the Swiss giant has made the right strategic decision to enter equity derivatives via proprietary trading, because it would be difficult for the firm to grow a large client franchise in the U.S. It could not be determined whether Swiss Re plans to extend its equity derivatives presence at a later date. An official noted, however, that the firm has a captive client base in its home market of Switzerland that would have a natural demand for options and this could be a logical extension for the operation.
Ben Smith, head of proprietary equity derivative trading for the U.S. at JPMorgan in New York, declined comment.