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Brevan Howard to double Abu Dhabi headcount

City, Metropolis, Urban Reuters
Abu Dhabi's time zone means 'you can see the Bank of Japan at the beginning of the day' and the US Fed at the end, so Brevan Howard is increasing its workforce in the emirate
  • Hedge fund has $33bn assets
  • Abu Dhabi ‘best time zone in world’
  • Doubling staff to 120

Brevan Howard, one of the world’s biggest hedge funds with assets exceeding $33 billion, is to double its workforce in Abu Dhabi next year.

The UK company initiated its Middle East expansion by opening an office in Abu Dhabi Global Market in February, joining an increasing number of hedge funds drawn to the region’s substantial capital pools.

Alan Howard, co-founder of Brevan Howard Asset Management, told attendees at the Abu Dhabi Finance Week event that the local team will grow from 60 to 120 by the end of the first quarter of next year.

“Hedge funds sit at the top of the food chain,” Howard said.

“As you get more top hedge funds with their top senior people coming here, that can lead to the banks having to send their best people as well to service correctly those traders, and other parts of the financial sector, as well as ancillary services such as compliance [and] legal, which are more in a ratio of four to one.”

The fund has also moved its execution desk to Abu Dhabi, describing the emirate as “the best time zone in the world to trade macro than anywhere else”.

“You can see the Bank of Japan or what’s going on in Asia at the beginning of the day, and at the end of the day you can see the Fed and what happens at a more reasonable time,” Howard said. 

“That is an incredible advantage of Abu Dhabi.” 

Geographical positioning is pivotal for macro trading, a strategy that involves making investment decisions based on a range of global economic trends and macroeconomic indicators to forecast market movements and make trades in asset classes such as currencies, bonds and stocks.

It relies on the interconnectedness of financial markets.

Brevan Howard manages assets for institutional investors worldwide, including sovereign wealth funds, corporate and public pension plans, foundations and endowments.

Howard also cited Abu Dhabi’s strong regulatory framework, adherence to UK common law and favourable tax environment, as attractions for financial firms. 

The billionaire added that the UAE’s signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020 had influenced his decision to establish a presence in the Gulf state.

A growing number of hedge funds are choosing to register in both the UAE’s international financial free zones.

The Dubai International Financial Centre had 40 licensed hedge fund managers operating under its jurisdiction at the end of 2022, a 13 percent increase on 2021.

It is expected to have 70 hedge funds by the end of this year.

Abu Dhabi Global Market has a pipeline of up to 30 hedge funds set to join, bringing the total number of asset managers to 100.

Research from Strategy& shows the asset management market in the Gulf region is projected to reach nearly $500 billion in onshore assets by 2026, a leap from $400 billion at the end of 2022.

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