Amherst Goes International

Austin-based Amherst Holdings, a financial services provider to mortgage-related investors, recently got a taste for international investments. And the flavor of the day is Chinese. The company unveiled its new Hong Kong subsidiary — and first international venture — Amherst International, which will facilitate business throughout Asia using Amherst’s knowledge of fixed-income strategies and residential mortgage-backed securities in particular. A veteran of Lehman Brothers‘ Hong Kong office, Paul Kan, heads up Amherst International as managing director. Kan brings a history of fixed-income experience and working knowledge of the Asian investor landscape. At Lehman, he served as the senior trader of MBS for Asia and coordinated trades between Lehman’s Hong Kong office and New York trading desks. He’ll need the experience coordinating long-distance transactions, as Amherst International aims to facilitate securities trades in the US between Asian accounts and Amherst’s broker-dealer affiliate, Amherst Securities Group. “Establishing a presence in Hong Kong is an important and exciting milestone for Amherst and one that we have been eagerly anticipating,” said Amherst Holdings CEO Sean Dobson in a statement. “We see a tremendous potential to grow our business in Asia and establishing a presence in Hong Kong gives us an important inroad into that market.” The move is the latest in a series of efforts by Amherst to buck the broad economic trend and expand its business. In May, Amherst Securities added a handful of MBS and ABS salespeople to its Chicago office. Then in June, the company took JP Morgan Chase (JPM) and Goldman Sachs (GS) for a ride when it called for the servicer of a pool of subprime mortgages on California properties to buy up what remained of the toxic loans and pay off existing bondholders at par — out of protection of client interests, executives said. The move effectively wiped out the value in credit default swaps previously bought by trading desks at JPM and others that wanted to hedge their positions on the heavily defaulting pool. It also alerted the industry to Amherst’s growing business savvy. Write to Diana Golobay. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments.

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