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Goldman Sachs loses seven Asia prime brokers

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the largest prime broker in Asia, lost seven of its employees on the regional team this year, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

The departures include Alain Bordoni, a former managing director, and Mark Wittet, who was an executive director, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. Most of the jobs vacated have been filled with internal transfers and new hires, he added.

Connie Ling, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the New York-based bank, declined to comment. Bordoni’s Goldman Sachs license was removed Jan. 28, according to information posted on the website of Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission. Wittet’s was removed April 5, it showed.

Goldman Sachs was ranked by London-based trade journal AsiaHedge as the region’s largest prime broker, with an estimated 179 mandates and US$24.6 billion of assets as of April 2013. Global hedge-fund capital hit US$2.7 trillion in March, the seventh consecutive quarterly record, according to Chicago-based Hedge Fund Research Inc.

“Given the healthy state of the hedge-fund industry, the major service providers to hedge funds are likely facing a harder time competing for specialised talent, both versus rivals as well as versus hedge funds themselves,” said Daniel Celeghin, Asia head at Casey Quirk & Associates LLC, a Darien, Connecticut-based adviser to asset managers.

Prime brokers provide services such as stock and cash lending, trade clearing for hedge funds, as well as linking them with potential investors.

Joining Funds

Asia-based hedge funds oversee a combined US$79.7 billion of assets, having recovered by 41 per cent from the April 2009 trough, according to Singapore-based data provider Eurekahedge Pte.

Banks like Goldman Sachs have been trying to balance regulatory pressure to tie compensation to long-term performance with shareholders’ desire for flexibility to cut pay costs, if needed. Chief executive officer Lloyd C. Blankfein cut compensation to 37 per cent of revenue last year, the second- lowest portion since the company went public in 1999.

With the exception of Bordoni, the other Goldman Sachs prime-brokerage departures in Asia were executive directors or lower-level employees, said the person. Some left to join rivals, others have been hired by funds, he added.

Bordoni couldn’t immediately be reached, while Wittet didn’t reply to a message seeking comment sent through social media.

Goldman Sachs counts as its clients some of the largest regional hedge funds, including ones led by alumni such as Azentus Capital Management founded by Morgan Sze.

Goldman Sachs’s 14th annual Asia hedge-fund event in Singapore in October attracted the likes of Azentus as well as Asia teams of Fortress Investment Group LLC, Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC and Highbridge Capital Management LLC, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.