Citi's ex-head of equity derivatives joins AI fund manager cloning its founder's brain

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Citigroup’s former head of equity derivatives in London has joined a Dubai-based asset manager that uses algorithms to copy the brain of its founder and chief investment officer, Muhammed Yesilhark – who was head of equities at fund manager Carmignac and a long-time portfolio manager at Steve Cohen’s old hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors.

Imraan Moola, an emerging markets focused trader who co-ran Citigroup’s equity derivatives business in EMEA until June 2015, has just emerged at Q2Q Capital, a tech-focused asset management firm based in Dubai’s International Financial Centre. He is a partner and portfolio manager at the firm.

Q2Q Capital launched earlier this year and, according to an interview with Yesilhark on Bloomberg, uses 40 computer models to essentially clone his investment ideas. These algorithms generate fast investment ideas by analysing third-party data, company releases and real-time trading patterns. It also uses artificial intelligence to learn from past mistakes.

Moola joined Citigroup in 2010 as head of equity derivatives for central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEEMEA), but was promoted to co-head of the division for EMEA alongside Rory Hill in April 2013. Hill left as part of a shake-up of Citi’s equities division in July 2014, and Moola departed shortly afterwards – in March 2015.

Moola has worked for large investment banks for most of his career. Before joining Citigroup, he was a director at Credit Suisse, and has also worked for Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank and Standard Bank.

However, since the beginning of 2016, he’s been running his own consultancy – Crescent Quantsultants, suggesting he’s been more interested in new quantitative techniques rather than a trading role at a large investment bank.

Q2Q Capital has hired some other senior people for its investment team in the past month. Rafael Rottgen, a former prop trader at Deutsche Bank, is a partner and head of research and data science, Zia Afzal, who has worked as an independent trader for over 13 years, is its chief technology officer and COO, while Cem Goekmen, a former Lazard associate, joined as a vice president.

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