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) -- Feisty mid-market securities firm


(JEF) - Get Jefferies Financial Group Inc. Report

officially entered the futures business Thursday, announcing the hire of a new executive who will lead the effort to win some market share away from the giant securities firms that have dominated the field.

Jefferies tapped Patrice Blanc, who had been CEO of futures broker


until he stepped down in July, to lead its new business. Paris-based Newedge is a joint venture of

Societe Generale



Credit Agricole


. Blanc is set to start next month.

Like many players in various corners of the financial services industry, Jefferies is hoping new regulations in the $700 trillion over the counter derivatives industry will create an opportunity to take away market share from banks like

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and a few of Europe's largest players.

Jefferies has mostly kept quiet about its ambitions, but it is a member of an upstart trade group called the

Swaps and Derivatives Markets Association

, which has emerged on the scene this year as an outspoken opponent of big banks' interests in the derivatives regulatory debate.

Long an established middle-market player in high yield debt, Jefferies has shown explosive growth in other areas of fixed income and commodities in recent years, areas that are complementary to derivatives. Excluding high yield, Jefferies had fixed income and commodities revenues of $128 million in 2007, $290 million in 2008 and $978 million in 2009. The unit accounted for just 8% of total revenues in 2007 and grew to 45% of the total last year.

Written by Dan Freed in New York


Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.