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Point72 eyes further Singapore hires after 9 recruits in 2016

[HONG KONG] Steven A Cohen's Point72 Asset Management plans further hires in Singapore after recruiting nine people in the city-state this year, as it expands in a region where rivals have pulled back.

This year's additions helped boost Point72's Singapore employees to 27, from 14 in Mar 2015, Chris Coward, chief of the office and head of risk for the firm's international business, said on Monday.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based family office, which oversees US$11 billion, employs fund managers, analysts, quantitative developers and risk researchers in Singapore, he added on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the relocation to a new office that can house 60 employees, double the previous capacity.

"There is a diversity of talent here, but we're particularly excited about the analyst and quantitative developer talent that we have already tapped into here over a number of years," Mr Coward said.

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Point72 this year went on its biggest hiring spree in Asia as rivals such as Tudor Investment Corp, TPG-Axon Capital Management and Hutchin Hill Capital are closing offices and cutting jobs in the region.

The US$2.9 trillion global industry is grappling with investor discontent over lackluster performances and high fees, forcing some firms to streamline businesses and refocus on their main markets.

Point72 was created after SAC pleaded guilty in 2013 to securities fraud, agreed to pay a record US$1.8 billion fine and converted into a family office. This year, it recruited more than 35 people for its Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo offices, boosting regional employees to above 140.

Of the additions, more than 20 of them were investment staff, according to Marc Desmidt, Hong Kong-based chief executive officer of its international business, and an e-mailed statement.

Point72 is adding people in Asia after Cohen struck a deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in January that would allow him to return to managing client money as early as January 2018.

The billionaire investor, whose former hedge fund had racked up average annual returns of 30 per cent before the 2013 plea, said at a conference in May that he was "blown away by the lack of talent" in the industry.

SAC expanded to Asia with a Hong Kong office in 2006. It opened the Singapore office in 2009 with six people. This year's hires in the city-state included recruits for investment teams, for a risk group that assists fund managers in Asia and London as well as additions to the quantitative unit called Cubist Systematic Strategies, Mr Coward said.

"We have a large number of fundamental portfolio managers globally that rely on an enormous amount of data," said Mr Coward.

"There is an enormous amount of quality talent in the Singapore market that can actually develop cutting-edge tools, and skill sets along those lines that can actually contribute to our portfolio managers globally."

Point72 has also talked to candidates for a potential macro fund manager role in Asia, said Mr Desmidt. Macro hedge fund managers seek to profit from broad economic trends by trading in the stock, bond, currency and commodity markets.

"We see Singapore as a place that sprouts macro investment talent," Mr Desmidt said.