Prime-broking frenzy builds for Goldman spin-out

The imminent announcement of Asia’s biggest prime-broking mandate has sent pitching parties into a state of over-excitement. The question is, who will be on the ticket?

Azentus Capital, the Goldman Sachs Principal Strategies Group (GSPS) prop desk spin-out masterminded by Morgan Sze, was the most stimulating hedge fund launch announced in Asia in 2010, and probably will be for 2011 as well.

Investors have started discussing it and are encouraged by the depth of the team and their cohesion from having worked together. As a nimble strategy in Asia investing across asset classes, appetite seems to be growing rapidly.

It follows in the footsteps of Edoma Capital in Europe headed by Pierre-Henri Flamand and also the hiring of the US GSPS team by a private equity group in the US.

A further ex-GSPS team in Europe led by Ariel Roskis and Daniele Benatoff has also secured a sizeable strategic investment as the opportunity to invest with the best Goldman Sachs traders captures the attention of investors, too.

In Asia the details are seeping out slowly, and Azentus Capital titbits are emerging, such as the firm’s name, the appointment of Roger Denby-Jones as COO and their aspirations to raise over $1 billion.

Still unfolding is the question of who will get Azentus’s prime-broking mandate. Prime brokers remain tight-lipped, not wanting to risk their pitches, but it is understood that every prime-broking supremo in town wants to be on this list and the pitching process has been intense. Senior management are understood to have flown in to meet the Azentus team. Failure will mean enormous disappointment.

The prime-broking parties that have succeeded or failed in this aspiration have not yet been advised, but the process of delivering the agony to the losers, and the ecstasy to the winners, must be imminent – despite all concerned refusing to comment.

Will the old duopoly of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley be on the ticket? Or will it be the European banks which have made such strides in Asian prime broking in recent years? How about all the others, is there a role for them?

Goldman must be a guaranteed pick, and we suspect the other old duopolist will also get a place, joined by one of the Europeans. The final result is eagerly awaited.

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