Leave La France, volume two

Following Indosuez WI Carr''s departure from Asian equities, is SG Securities next?

With news emerging that SG has closed offices in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, serious doubt is being cast over the firm's commitment to Asian equities. Following fellow French institution, Indosuez WI Carr's departure, speculation is mounting as to whether SG Securities has any appetite left for Asian equities.

FinanceAsia hears from a good source that SG Securities has reduced its corp of analysts from 78 to 35, and that the whole department is in disarray.

In situations like this, headhunters typically circle round the carcass picking off the best analysts that remain. They will probably be targeting Philip Mok (head of Hong Kong research), Li Hui (head of China research), Herbert Hui (head of regional bank analysis), Andrew Queck (small caps) and Joseph Jacobelli (energy analyst).

In addition, Steven Hak, the head of sales, is regarded as a top performer. His previous employers include DLJ and BZW which suggests that bad luck does happen in threes.

SG's spokesperson, Melody Jeannin says the company has let go of 150 in Asia.

New CEO, Michel Macagno, who arrived at Christmas, will have his work cut out as he attempts to emphasise SG Securities's continuing commitment to Asia.

Possibly the whole episode represents a cautionary tale. SG is another French house that bought its way into the Asian equities business via the acquisition of an old British broker, in this case, Crosby. Should this be the beginning of the end of SG's cash equities business, it would tend to suggest that British brokers and French banks do not make a very good mix.