Wells Just Weeks Away From Launching Self-Cleared Prime

Jun 11 2014 | 8:49am ET

Two years after buying its way into the hedge fund services business, Wells Fargo is set to expand its prime brokerage.

The bank plans to launch a self-cleared prime brokerage business by the end of the month, Risk reports. Wells has been working on the service since its 2012 acquisition of Merlin Securities, an introducing broker that offered hedge funds access to Goldman Sachs’ and JPMorgan Chase’s prime-brokerage services.

The new business will initially support only U.S. assets. Wells prime-brokerage chief Eamon McCooey said that it will debut in “a couple of weeks”—pending regulatory approval—and will expand “over the next five years to accommodate more clients and strategies.”

“We’re not weighed down with legacy derivatives positions or a large prime brokerage franchise that we’re trying to turn on its head due to regulatory constraints,” McCooey told Risk. “We’re a well-capitalized bank and one of the safest counterparties in the world. So we definitely see an opportunity to be a financing provider to hedge funds given our strong and liquid balance sheet under the new regulatory framework.”

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