Amias Berman & Co gets regulatory approval and a deal with Jamie Oliver

The firm set up by two former Citi heads of fixed income, currencies and commodities, including Jeremy Amias who covered Asia, has been granted approval to handle international activities.

Amias Berman & Co, a fixed-income advisory, origination and brokerage firm formed earlier this year, announced that the UK Financial Services Authority has granted regulatory approval for its international activities based in London and said it will begin operations immediately. Its sister company, Amias Berman (Hong Kong), is in the process of seeking approval from the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong.

The firm, founded by Jeremy Amias, the former head of fixed income, currencies and commodities for Citi in Asia, and Charlie Berman, the former co-head of fixed-income capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, also at Citi, has also just started marketing its first transaction. 

It's a small but fun deal. The firm is the sole arranger/advisor for the funding of Jamie's Italian Asia -- a joint venture between Jamie Oliver Enterprises and Tranic Franchising, a Hong Kong-based management consultancy and franchising team. 

"Although it is not something we would traditionally focus on, we think it is an interesting deal -- selling an equity stake in Jamie's Italian Asia for the roll-out of 30 Jamie's Italian restaurants in Asia during the next five years," said co-founder Jeremy Amias.

Most deals that Amias will be working on probably won't come with the perks of getting to know a TV personality/famous chef. 

Amias and his co-partner Berman described their venture in a joint statement this way: "There is a significant opportunity in today's environment to build a new style of long-term sustainable business in the international fixed-income markets. Our team offers clients a complementary and differentiated service to that of traditional risk-based market-making. We focus on impartial and independent execution, advisory and origination services to investors and issuers in the international capital markets. Whilst we cannot be all things to all people, we intend to operate across a broad range of asset classes from traditional flow rates and credit products through to more complex and less transparent securities and instruments."

"As a new firm we have no legacy positions and to ensure no conflicts ever exist with our clients we will not take any positions or engage in lending activities," they added.

Evenly divided between London and Hong Kong, the firm has already recruited 25 staff with average tenures in the industry exceeding 15 years. Some of those are ex-Citi colleagues, but the majority of the hires comes from a variety of top firms. A New York office is in the works.

The two founding partners hold the majority of the equity in the new business, while ICAP has made a minority investment.   

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