With Asian market volumes up substantially since last July, a renaissance may be underway in the world of Asian broking. Just as in the early 90s, Asian broking is starting to look profitable once again.
Indeed, while ING is selling its broking platform to Macquarie Bank, other firms have started to beef up once more. Among the bulge bracket, Merrill Lynch is said to be hiring again. And BNP Paribas Peregrine has signalled its intent to upgrade its broking business through the hire of Michael Bugel.
Bugel is an old Asia hand who knows the regional broking industry inside out. He rose to prominence at Jardine Fleming on the sales side and with the eventual merger with JPMorgan ended up running sales for the new platform, before departing last July.
He joins BNP Paribas Peregrine as managing director and head of Asia Securities, reporting directly to Asia boss, Jean-Claude Bergadaa.
Bugel will be in hiring mode as he seeks to improve BNP Paribas Peregrine's broking operation. The firm currently doesn't rank in a top 10 that sees UBS as a clear number one and possibly Deutsche in second place. The firm gains most of its broking revenues from its Hong Kong/ China franchise - a speciality for the firm, in large part thanks to its successful strategy of chasing mid-cap IPOs from China. That part of the business will only get bigger thanks to the recent inking of a joint venture with Changjiang Securities.
But BNP Paribas Peregrine has a weaker broking presence around the rest of the region. It is thought Bugel will focus on upgrading the quality of the firm's research and look at improving the firm's broking franchises in Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Some will interpret the move as a renewed Gallic push into Asia, after an earlier withdrawal. For while SG pulled out of Asian broking and the French parent shuttered WI Carr around two years ago, BNP has now firmly signalled its intent to grow in the region and it should be remembered that CLSA - a dominant force in Asian broking - is 65% owned by the Credit Agricole/ Credit Lyonnais Group.