Investors can expect to see a wider range of strategies among Asia-focused hedge fund launches in the coming year that go beyond the traditional equity long/short, says Sam Tabar, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s newly appointed head of Asia-Pacific capital introductions.

Tabar joined BoA Merrill this month from Hong Kong-based hedge fund manager PMA Investment Advisors where he co-headed the capital-raising team. He now reports to Dan McNicholas, BoA Merrill's head of financing sales for Asia-Pacific global markets.

He has experience in raising money across a range of hedge fund strategies, including credit, macro and equity long/short, which will continue to be the focus of new launches in the region this year, says McNicholas. “Sam is familiar with the allocation process across multiple strategies and the investor bases looking to participate in these strategies," he adds.

BoA Merrill has been expanding its Asia-Pacific prime brokerage team in the past year. The bank recently announced that Stuart Hendel, who had served as UBS global head of prime brokerage, will take on the same role at BOA starting in June.

The business of servicing hedge funds has evolved in line with tighter regulations and stricter investment mandates. “The barriers to entry are much higher than before,” Tabar notes. “Many investors want to see an institutional level of infrastructure in place.”

BoA Merrill, along with rivals such as Deutsche Bank and Citi, have been expanding their range of services that complement prime brokerage activities. They include hedge fund consulting and middle-office servicing.

The competitive bid to gain hedge fund clients lies behind the boost in prime brokerage teams – and their services – at large banks in the region.

It comes at a time when global investors are allocating increasing amounts of capital to hedge funds, with the amount of assets managed by the industry forecasted to reach a record high of $2.25 trillion by the end of 2011, according to Deutsche Bank estimates.