Merrill Lynch has hired Marta Obando into its equtiy derivatives team in Hong Kong, where she will be selling equity and equity derivative products to global hedge funds. She will report to Nigel Beattie, who runs the equity derivatives team in Asia.

Obando joins Merrill from BNP Paribas where she worked in the hedge fund group. Prior to that she worked for a hedge fund herself. She started her career at Morgan Stanley in the prime brokerage and custody division.

The hire is the first in what is expected to be a series of moves as Merrill seeks to bolster its hedge fund services in the region. "We consider ourselves very strong in the hedge fund area already," says Merrill spokesman RG Rosso in Hong Kong. "And Marta is a very strong addition to that. But this is an area where we will continue to add resources."