JP Morgan's New Singapore Dealing Room Is Among Largest In Asia-Pacific Region

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In a measure of its confidence in the Far East, investment bank JP Morgan has built a trading room in Singapore that is arguably the largest in the city-state and among the biggest in the region, officials say. The room began trading late last year with 120 treasury sales and trading positions and has room to expand by an additional third.

Including the 120 front-office positions at its existing headquarters in the DBS Building at 6 Shenton Way, the Singapore office now has 320 staff members, up from 225 a year ago, says an official. JP Morgan closed its forex trading in Hong Kong two years ago and put renewed emphasis on a strategic move to increase its strength in Singapore (FX Week, Feb. 22, 1993).

Morgan has 40 foreign exchange traders and sales staff in Singapore. Jeanette Wong, managing director and co-head of FX for Asia Pacific, says there are no immediate plans for major increases to this number, but that the bank is prepared with substantial room for expansion if conditions warrant.

Wong co-heads the division with managing director Goetz Eggelhoefer, who was transferred from London last summer (FX Week, July 25). A Singapore native, Wong has headed forex sales in the region since 1993, and assumed the co-head position in May 1994.

In Singapore the FX team comprises vice president Lim Kwang Hui, who was recently promoted to chief dealer for spot FX (FX Week, December 19); vice president Wong Ban Suan, regional head for Stirt (short-term interest rate products, and vice president Neal Elkin who heads currency options trading.

Product Lines

The Asia Pacific forex team is supported by vice president Steve Rinoie, head of FX in Tokyo, and by vice president Bob Carmichael, head of FX in Sydney. In Tokyo, Morgan makes markets in spot dollar/yen and in all forwards/FRAs prices in yen. The client focus there is primarily Japanese clients, says Wong.

In Sydney, Morgan concentrates on similar product lines as in Tokyo, but in Australian and New Zealand dollars. The client base comprises Australian and New Zealand customers. However, the sales force in all three locations share global coverage of all U.S. and European clients who require an "Asian perspective," or who need 24-hour access to the FX markets, says Wong.

Morgan makes markets in spot, forwards and options in developed currencies to clients and the interbank market in the region. Wong says Morgan plans to expand its presence in the growing currency markets in Asia, as well as add to its FX derivative capabilities to "meet clients' interest" in these areas.

Morgan became involved in options trading in the region long before the bank brought the books to Singapore in 1991, says Wong. Under Elkin, Morgan trades both plain-vanilla and exotic options. Options portfolios are managed on a global basis between New York, London and Singapore and prices are made to clients in nearly all major currency pairs, says Wong.

She says Morgan plans to increase its client-driven sales and trading effort across the full range of FX-related products by leveraging on its global client network. Wong adds that Morgan plans to do this by targeting Asian clients who are active foreign exchange users and by working closely with the bank's other businesses in Asia, to meet Asian clients' growing need to hedge their financing requirements.

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