Marex Financial, an international brokerage firm owned by former senior employees of Lehman Brothers, opened its first Asian office in Hong Kong last month and is already planning an expansion.
Specialising in futures brokering, the firm has a global headcount of 288. Its Hong Kong office opened in January and now has six employees. It plans to boost the headcount to 20 or more by the end of 2011, while eyeing the possibility of opening another office in Singapore, according to managing director Gavin Prentice.
Marex's trade volume increased 62 per cent from 101,701,168 lots in 2009 to 164,763,140 in 2010. Prentice said he expected similar growth rate this year.
'The continued attention to commodity prices and the volatility over the past few years across metals, energy and agricultural products has increased the demand of customers worldwide, particularly in Asia, to use the commodity markets for hedging,' said Prentice, explaining why the company needed to have a physical presence in Asia.
While acknowledging a fair amount of criticism of speculators, who were said to have pushed up commodity prices, Prentice argued that commodity prices were in fact driven by improving fundamentals, such as the continued growth in China and many other emerging economies in Asia.
But he said the company had no immediate plans to collaborate with any mainland entities to start trading on the three mainland commodity future exchanges, which recorded 309 trillion yuan (HK$365.96 trillion) worth of turnover in 2010.
The majority of Marex shares are owned by JRJ Group, a London-based investment firm founded by Jeremy Issac, former chief executive of Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific at Lehman, and Roger Nagioff, former global head of fixed income at Lehman.