Would You Make Citadel Your Prime Broker?

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Citadel is often described as an investment bank masquerading as a hedge fund. And it looks like it may be moving even further in the direction of becoming a full-fledged investment bank. This morning Roddy Boyd and Zach Kouwe report for the New York Post that Citadel is in talks to buy Bank of America's prime brokerage business.
It's not surprise that Bank of America wants to get out of its investment banking business. Ken Lewis made that clear earlier this year, and BofA has been shedding senior bankers ever since. According to the Post, both the head of the prime brokerage unit and the head of its fixed-income business have recently left.
But would hedge funds be comfortable putting their trades through with CItadel on the other end of the line? There is already resentment about the way some prime brokers take positions conflicting with those of their clients. JP Morgan has been sued by Amaranth over such conflicts and there are perennial complaints about Goldman Sachs. Still, both JP Morgan and Goldman make good coin with their prime brokerage business, so the talk about conflicts hasn't hurt them.
Still, there a plenty of folks who are suspicious of anything those boys with the white boards over at Citadel do. They have proven eerily apt at turning positions that ruin competitors into money makers. One hedge fund manager we spoke with this morning laughed out loud when we asked if he would run his trades through Citadel.
"Then again, they seem to know my positions and strategy anyway. So why not? Maybe they'll accidentally tip me off," he said.
Citadel, BofA In Brokerage Sale Talks [New York Post]

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