HSBC Offers A Home To Hedge Funds Fleeing Prime Brokers

Apr 10 2008 | 7:33am ET

HSBC Holdings is luring hedge funds spooked by the credit crisis and its possible impact on prime brokers.

The firm has spoken with hedge funds managing more than $100 million, HSBC global head of securities services Tim Howell says, and is looking to add some services traditionally offered by prime brokers to its existing administration and custodial services.

“Over the last three months, funds moving away from prime brokerage have been the most significant source of the pipeline we have,” Howell told Bloomberg News. “In the current economic climate, a lot of funds say they ascribe very high value to the creditworthiness of the person looking after their assets.”

In the unlikely event of a prime brokerage failure—made even more unlikely by recent Federal Reserve moves—client collateral is in danger of going into a general creditors’ pool. Non-collateral assets should be safe from such a seizure, but should be registered in the client’s name by the prime broker, a safety measure sometimes ignored.

Multi-billion hedge funds from the U.S. and Europe are leading the way out of prime brokers, Howell said.

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