Daily Dispatches: Merrill helps the hedgies in Asia

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch is helping more than a dozen multibillion dollar international hedge funds set up or reestablish a presence in Hong Kong and Singapore as the US and Europe increase industry regulation. (Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse will increase the headcount in its prime brokerage team in Asia by 15 per cent to 20 per cent in 2010 as it aims to win business from the increasing number of global hedge funds eager to set up base in the region, a senior official at the Swiss bank said. (Reuters)

Alasdair Morrison, one of Hong Kong's most senior business figures, has made an unexpected return to banking by joining Citigroup as a senior adviser. In the newly created role, Citi said Mr Morrison would support the bank's expansion in Asia. Mr Morrison, the former Asia head of Morgan Stanley, will also join Citi's senior strategic advisory group. (Financial Times)

Korea Development Bank said on Monday it was interested in buying Thailand's Siam City Bank, joining the race for the estimated US$900m deal in which HSBC and a local Thai bank are also competing. (Financial Times)

To improve the SAR's competitive edge, the government should cut profits tax and raise certain individual allowances, says a leading accountancy body. (The Standard)

Societe Generale is considering a complete exit of the Australian banking market and is in discussions with regulators about the status of its banking licence. The French bank is in the process of winding down much of its business in Australia as part of a decision taken in the depths of the global financial crisis to transfer its Sydney-based operations to Hong Kong. (The Australian)

Mark Johnson, the architect of the plan to develop Australia into a regional financial hub, believes the export of financial services can double in the next five to seven years. Exports account for only 3 per cent of the sector's contribution to the economy at present, compared with 50 per cent in Britain, 25 per cent in Singapore and 8 per cent in Canada and the US. (The Australian)