KE Absolute, a specialist broker dedicated to serving hedge funds in Asia, has announced two new hires in its Hong Kong office, which itself has recently moved into new premises in Pacific Place.

David Kwan is already in-situ as managing director. He had been working at KE as head of sales, where he ran a team of seven salesmen.

He succeeded Tom Ashworth, who left KE Absolute to develop other investment management opportunities, which he will announce in due course.

Kim Eng Securities in Singapore, an arm of Yuanta Securities in Taiwan, acquired a small hedge fund-oriented brokerage three years ago that Ashworth had recently founded, following a career in prime brokerage with Morgan Stanley. The new company was re-branded KE Absolute and with the new capital and support, established itself as the regionÆs first boutique catering exclusively to hedge funds.

AshworthÆs additional legacy to KE was his Zulu drum, a powerful source of mojo, familiar to visitors of KEÆs dealing room, that was ritually tub-thumped after every new deal was done. Ashworth says he is now on the prowl for another totemic talisman to bang in his next incarnation.

For the new hires, Alan Lau has been appointed as chief operating officer. Lau has eight years of Hong Kong hedge-fund experience and joins KE from TPG-Axon Capital. Prior to then he worked at two other locally based hedge funds.

Bertrand Chui has been hired from ICEA Securities as a research analyst. He will be reporting to David Blennerhassett, KEÆs head of alternative strategies.

Chui will specialise in capital restructuring and merger and acquisition analysis. He ranked second in the telecommunications category of the 2005 StarMine Hong Kong and China analyst ratings.

ôWe are looking to further enhance our existing products in event-driven, special situations and identifying value displacements,ö says David Kwan.