Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has hired several senior staff from rivals to expand its electronic trading and sales trading desks to service hedge funds and long-only institutions, AsianInvestor can reveal. They are due to take up positions this summer.

Both Murat Atamer and David Broadfield will join the US bank from Credit Suisse’s award-winning team. Atamer will become co-head of Asia-Pacific institutional electronic trading, and Broadfield head of North Asia institutional e-trading sales.

Atamer had been instrumental in building Credit Suisse’s algorithmic trading franchise in Asia.

Further, Danny McLellan, head of sales trading and managed hedge fund business at Morgan Stanley, and Ed Peel, who covered Japan and Hong Kong sales trading at JP Morgan, are poised to join BoA-Merrill in the next two months to focus on Japan institutional and hedge fund clients.

Charlie Pratt, who until recently was Credit Suisse’s head of hedge fund sales trading for Asia ex-Japan, will also join BoA-Merrill’s sales trading team.

It is understood some of these sell-side traders are joining at director or managing director level.

BoA-Merrill is increasing investment in its electronic trading business, focusing on innovation and safety mechanisms against a backdrop of regulatory change and client demands for risk control, says Olivier Thiriet, BoA-Merrill’s Asia Pacific head of equities.

He joined the US bank last year from Credit Suisse, where he was head of Asia Pacific cash equities and chief executive of the Swiss investment bank’s Japan unit, a move that prompted speculation he would take on some of his former colleagues.

“Over the next few months we will be in a stronger position to deliver investment ideas, advisory and content to clients to help them implement their investment strategies in a region where sourcing liquidity remains a top concern for many investors,” says Thiriet.

He argues that the barrier that traditionally has separated the distribution of execution services content to hedge funds and long-only institutions is becoming blurred.

“It is increasingly important to operate an integrated sales team to ensure we are helping clients to select the most appropriate and efficient way to express their views,” he adds.

Because a greater number of long-only managers are offering long/short strategies, while hedge fund managers are coming up with long-only strategies, sales traders are being exposed to an expanding range of products, spanning derivatives, cash, delta one and cash equity instruments.

BoA-Merrill is a latecomer to e-trading. However, Thiriet argues that could be viewed as an advantage as the firm’s systems are new, which enables it to tailor algos to client demands.

“To be successful today you have to offer a service that allows you to refine the actual algos, customise the strategies and adapt rapidly to changing client needs, various market conditions and different scenarios,” says Thiriet.

“That quick turnaround and flexibility of development are critical and can be improved by leveraging the latest available technology that we have been investing in.”

It is understood that some of the new hires will join BoA-Merrill in June. Over the past two years, the bank has lost several senior executives and sales trading heads.

Between August and October last year, AsianInvestor quizzed 73 respondents from 64 buy-side firms about trading and execution as part of our annual survey.

BoA Merrill was scored highly by hedge funds in several markets, including India, Taiwan and Korea. It was also voted best broker for providing liquidity in frontier markets.