Steven Cohen's family office Point72 is bullish on Asia. At least in terms of hiring new talent, that is.
The asset manager, which manages the hedge fund billionaire's personal fortune as well as those of some employees, opened a new office in Singapore this week that can seat up to 60 employees. It's a considerable expansion from Point72's launch in Singapore in 2009 with just six staff.
The firm has more than 1,000 employees globally and US$11 billion (S$15.51 billion) in assets under management. But it can't accept outside investments in the wake of Cohen's January settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in which the former SAC Capital Advisors boss agreed not to supervise funds that manage money until 2018.
The SEC had accused Cohen of failing to effectively monitor a former SAC portfolio manager who had been convicted separately of insider trading. SAC as a firm had already agreed the previous year to a record US$1.8 billion settlement on securities fraud charges, and in 2014 the firm was renamed Point72, having returned all outside investments.
The average hedge fund's value fell by 1 per cent in 2015, while Point72 Asset Management rose almost 16 per cent. Point 72 did not provide performance numbers for 2016.
Now, the firm's eye is on Asia's growth, as part of its plan to diversify.
"We're still US-centric so the more we can grow outside the US the better it is," Marc Desmidt, CEO of Point72's international business, told CNBC. "This part of the world is very much untapped in terms of the capital market opportunity. There's markets here still relatively early in their maturity."
At an office-opening ceremony that included a reception and a traditional Lion Dance, meant to bring prosperity and luck, Desmidt spoke to employees and guests.
"Steve Cohen, our founder, had challenged me in one of our early meetings to find great talent and do that to the extent that we're going to challenge the physical limitation of our office space," he said, adding the firm planned to also move into bigger offices in Tokyo and Hong Kong.
"We're trying in this organisation very hard to create an atmosphere that allows for collaborative, transparent behaviour amongst our portfolio managers because we believe firmly that people can learn from each other," he added.
Desmidt said Point72 was looking to double its Singapore headcount from 27, and already had more than 140 employees in Asia.
Cohen told a conference in May that he was blown away at the lack of talent in the hedge fund sector, prompting commentators to point to increased competition with Silicon Valley as an employer.
"For us to compete successfully for the best in-class talent against Silicon Valley and other employers, is to make it a fun place to work," Chris Coward, Point72's international risk officer told CNBC this week. "To make it a place where people feel like their part of a culture that wants to grow, wants to change, wants to stay at the cutting edge."