Leucadia Asset Management, a platform for alternative fund managers owned by New York-based Jefferies Financial Group, has hired a sales executive in Asia with a mandate to build a team and expand its institutional client base in the region.

Max Wong started on Monday (October 19) as Hong Kong-based head of Asia Pacific business development and client relations.

He was previously co-head of Asia Pacific at alternatives manager Oaktree Capital, where he oversaw client business for the region (excluding China) for six-and-half-years. Oaktree declined to comment on his departure. Before joining Oaktree in 2014, Wong had been head of institutional business for Greater China at Franklin Templeton.

Max Wong

Wong did not respond to a request for comment sent via LinkedIn.

Expanding into Asia is a logical next step for New York-based Leucadia after it set up a team in London a few years back. In February it unveiled a strategic relationship with Singapore-based manager Dymon Asia Capital and invested to support the launch of the latter’s pan-Asia multi-strategy programme.

There are no immediate plans to hire more staff in Asia, but Leucadia expects to add another two or three individuals over the next two years, a well-placed source said. Where they are located is likely to depend at least partly on where the firm sees the biggest growth in business – whether in China, Japan, Korea or elsewhere.

BUCKING THE TREND

Leucadia's hire of Wong comes as various Western asset managers have been reducing headcount in Asia amid a rising trend for consolidation globally. Morgan Stanley's acquisition of Eaton Vance, unveiled this month, is the latest in a series of big fund industry merges in recent years.

Leucadia is looking to build on a period of rapid expansion and to benefit from steadily increasing demand for alternative investments. The firm was set up in 2013 by Jefferies as an incubator and operating platform for boutique managers backed by the parent group. It opened to third-party client investment in 2015 and has since grown its assets under management nearly sixfold to $22 billion from $4 billion.

That includes adding $3 billion in the first half of 2020, driven by the additions of five new strategies, including Dymon’s multi-strategy fund and the first two credit funds to which Leucadia has allocated.

Jefferies had been investing in alternative managers with its own balance sheet anyway, so it made sense to tie them together on one platform and bring in external money, said a fund executive familiar with Leucadia.

Jefferies has investments in most of the strategies on the platform, Leucadia co-president Sol Kumin said during an investor presentation on October 15. The funds offered cover a full range, including equity long/short, multi-strategy, private credit, mid-market GP stakes and trade finance.