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Merrion moves into bonds Back  
Eight years after its establishment, Merrion Capital has made the move into bonds. When the firm was set up by former employees of NCB Stockbrokers back in 1999, the founders offered only equity services.

The other three main Irish stockbroking firms - Davy Stockbrokers, Goodbody Stockbrokers and NCB Stockbrokers - all offer a bonds sale and research service. However, speaking to FINANCE, Merrion CEO John Conroy said that the firm saw the move into bonds as an 'initial step' into offering new products, and that Merrion is currently looking at opportunities on a number of horizons.

Olivia Smith, who previously worked for Dresdner Kleinworth Wasserstein in London in a senior role in both emerging markets and high grade corporate bond syndication, is to head up the new bonds unit, which will consist of around three/four people.

Initially, the unit will only provide a sales service, but Conroy asserts that it might look into providing research services further down the line.

The Irish bonds business has changed significantly since the time that Merrion was established - back then the Government was a frequent issuer of gilts, but this has dwindled in recent times so much so that AIB stopped acting as a primary dealer in 2005.

The buyers of bonds has changed dramatically as well - at the end of 1999 non-residents held 30 per cent of the market, while by the end of 2006, overseas investors held over 85 per cent of Irish Government bonds. However, while the business has changed, the other three large stockbroking firms still maintain a presence in bonds, and with Davy dominating the bonds section of the FINANCE Stockbroking Survey, it will be interesting to see what impact Merrion can make in this year's survey.

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