BAML-Tora partnership puts initial focus on Asia

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Tora Trading are to provide each other’s clients in the region with a range of execution-related services.
BAML-Tora partnership puts initial focus on Asia

Agency broker and trading platform provider Tora Holdings has formed an alliance with Bank of America Merrill Lynch that both firms hope will have an impact as dramatic as its name.

‘Thunder’ is the first co-branded undertaking in electronic trading services for BAML and will be the preferred execution management system for the bank’s buy-side clients in Asia. It is a front-to-back-office solution that combines BAML’s equity execution and prime brokerage services with Tora’s trading technology.

The regional head of trading at a large long-only asset manager says the partnership is positive for both firms “at the margin”, but he doesn’t see it increasing their volume of business to any great extent.

He notes that BAML has a “big, solid, well developed platform”, which is run by several Goldman Sachs alumni. They include: Gene Reilly, head of Asia-Pacific cash equity trading and execution; Ryan Holsheimer, head of Asia-Pacific equity execution services in Hong Kong; and Kim Man Li, head of product development for Asia-Pacific equity execution services in Hong Kong.

BAML's prime broking clients expect the firm to deliver a broad set of solutions including capital introductions, consulting, stock loan and execution services, says Gabriel Butler, director of execution sales for Asia at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “By launching Thunder with Tora, we add a best-in-class trading platform to that offering," he tells AsianInvestor.

The deal is not an exclusive one, says Tora chief executive Robert Dykes, as the firm will continue to work on initiatives with “a wide variety” of broker-dealers and wants to develop similar alliances across the region.

However, this is the first time Tora has entered into an alliance on execution and prime brokerage services. “We have historically built custom tools for clients to hook into the various products of different prime brokerages,” says Dykes, “but this is the first time we have delivered an out-of-the-box solution with a broker partner.”

The initial focus is Asia – which Tora views as its home market – and the offering will then be rolled out across other regions.

Tora averages about $25 billion-plus in terms of execution flow on a monthly basis across the region, says Dykes.

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