The hire is the highest profile so far of what are expected to be many as CEO Jon Corzine builds the broker into a broker-dealer, and then into an investment bank.
That was his own description of his strategy for the brokerage, which he gave at the Barclays financial services conference in New York the same day.
Corzine, who took over from Bernie Dan as CEO in March after a period of poor financial results, said he expected MF Global’s headcount to rise from 3,000 to 4,000 as it changed its business model.
Abelow will oversee MF Global’s ongoing strategy review and assume direct responsibility for risk, operations, client services, human resources, information technology, procurement and property.
A close confidant of Corzine’s, Abelow was his chief of staff for several years when he was governor of New Jersey. Before that, he was a partner and eventually head of operations at Goldman Sachs, where Corzine was CEO.
He succeeds Karel Harbour, who will become MF Global’s director of operations and continue to serve as interim managing director of Asia Pacific until his retirement, expected at the end of the year.
In another move, MF Global boosted its sales team with Michael Steinberg, who joins the New York equities group as head of Asian equity sales. He was previously at JP Morgan, as head of Asia Pacific sales. In addition, Gregg Schonhorn has joined MF Global’s fixed income group in New York as senior vice-president of fixed income. He will co-head the institutional sales force on the firm’s credit desk.
Most recently, he was managing director of institutional sales at Jefferies. Before that, he worked in institutional sales at Mellon Bank and Gruntal.