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Asia Private Equity & Bitcoin ETFs: Morgan Stanley’s focus amid leadership shift

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The Securities and Exchange Commission approved 11 spot bitcoin ETFs in January 2024

Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia (PEA) is reorganising its teams in the region due to the retirement of Chin Chou, the company’s current chief executive of Asia, according to an internal memo reviewed by news agency Reuters.

The memo states that Morgan Stanley will separate a team from the rest of the region that is concentrated on onshore and offshore China investments.

According to the memo, the company has designated Jun Xu, who oversees its investment funds denominated in yuan, as the head of all private equity investments in China.

Since joining Private Equity Asia in 2008, Xu, who joined Morgan Stanley in 2005, has spearheaded the growth of the company’s yuan-denominated private equity business in China.

According to the memo from Morgan Stanley, Nirav Mehta and Arjun Saigal, who are currently co-heads of India PE, will assume the role of co-heads of PEA ex-China.

PEA ex-China will continue to invest throughout the region with India as its primary focus. A firm representative attested to the memo’s contents.

Chou will be retiring after working for the Wall Street Bank’s private equity division for 35 years, including time spent in the New York office in the late 1980s.

In the 1990s, he moved to Asia to start the company. In addition to leading the establishment of the China Yuan and Thai Funds, he was a member of the firm’s Asia-Pacific Executive Committee and is a pivotal figure in its five regional private equity funds.

According to the memo, Andrew Hawkyard, who spent 24 years working for the PE Asia unit, and most recently held the position of chief investment officer, will also be retiring.

According to public disclosures, Morgan Stanley PEA has raised five private equity funds totalling over USD 4 billion for the region since 1999. PEA raised the largest fund to date, USD 1.7 billion, when the fourth Asia fund closed in 2014, according to the bank’s disclosures.

In other news, Morgan Stanley is looking to allow its 15,000 brokers to recommend bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded funds (ETF) to their customers, according to a report from AdvisorHub.

The Wall Street giant has already opened up Bitcoin ETF purchases after they got the regulatory approval in early 2024. However, the bank is now looking to let its brokers pitch bitcoin ETFs directly to its customers. The move will see customers reaping the benefits of investing in the oldest cryptocurrency without direct exposure.

“We’re going to make sure that we’re very careful about it…we are going to make sure everybody has access to it. We just want to do it in a controlled way,” AdvisorHub reported, citing a Morgan Stanley executive.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved 11 spot bitcoin ETFs in January 2024. The firms that got the approval include investment behemoths BlackRock (BK), Fidelity, Invesco (IVZ) and others.

“The approval brought massive inflows into the funds and, subsequently, bitcoin. However, the inflows have been dwindling for some time, with BlackRock registering zero daily inflow for its ETF for the first time,” Farside Investors stated.

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