Morgan Stanley's head of prime broking for Asia, Kurt Baker, has left the company, having spent a long and distinguished career of over 15 years at the firm.

As one of the best known prime brokers in Asia, he led the build-up of Morgan Stanley's prime broking unit over many years and is widely respected in the industry for his insights into the alternatives and hedge fund world.

During Baker's tenure, Morgan Stanley was a prime broking market leader in Asia and his team won AsianInvestor's award for 'Best Prime Broker' in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Following the market uncertainties after the collapse of rival prime broker Lehman Brothers, hedge funds became jittery about having their assets with a securities company. In the following days, especially before Morgan Stanley's position was perceived to be stabilised by the news that it had converted into a bank holding company, it was rumoured that a substantial amount of hedge fund balances had migrated from Morgan Stanley to other prime brokers.

Along with nearly all firms on the street, Morgan Stanley is undergoing a personnel retrenchment process, one that is not limited to prime broking, and that will now continue to move down from managing directors through the other ranks. Prime broking, while it will endure as a hedge fund service, is going through a metamorphosis at present, and its entire product range, staffing requirements and general scope is under the microscope.