Merrill Lynch reshapes capital introductions as Visairas walks

Merrill Lynch shuffles people internally and decentralises its prime-broking capital introductions business as Martin Visairas follows Yvonne Wong through the exit.
Following the departure from Merrill Lynch of capital introductions head Yvonne Wong to hedge fund Thaddeus Capital, the man who took over from her at Merrill, Martin Visairas, has also headed for the door.

Visairas has joined the Hong Kong office of hedge fund Chilton Investments, where he will work in investor relations, reporting to the head of Chilton in Hong Kong, Kenneth Chiang, who is another Merrill veteran.

With the third member of the capital introductions triumvirate, Joyce Chan, having left earlier this year for fund of hedge funds Penjing, this leaves Merrill LynchÆs cap intros cupboard bare.

Merrill has moved swiftly to rebuild via internal transfers, and in the process, has decentralised the capital introductions function around the region. In Japan, Masakazu Yanagazawa will handle capital introductions, Jeffery Levy likewise in Singapore, and in Sydney Emma Dundas. She will also share her time with the superannuation fund desk. Diana Yang will be the contact point in Hong Kong and another senior hire will be made in Hong Kong soon.

Capital introductions have been stymied in 2008 by the flow of money into AsiaÆs hedge funds slowing to a trickle. Capital introductions is sometimes seen as something of a fluffy discipline, as it is extremely hard to measure accurately the direct success ratio of introductions to tickets being written. The credit crunch coupled with the middling performance of AsiaÆs hedge funds as a sector has led to investors putting their allocation plans on ice.

A Hong Kong hedge fund looking for a second prime broker told AsianInvestor that during the pitch interviews one capital introductions executive told them: ôDonÆt choose us as a prime broker because you think I can get you capital, because I shall fail miserably.ö

In upcoming editions of AsianInvestor, we will be looking closer at the drying-up of the hedge fund capital pool. This begins in next monthÆs edition with an assessment by Hong KongÆs capital introductions specialists of their perspective.
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