Although neither bank would confirm the moves last week, sources close to Lehman and Merrill suggest the three new hires are Asif Ghiawadwala, Giles Coppell and Andy Price.
Ghiawadwala focused on exotic options at Merrill, while Coppell and Price worked on vanilla options. Lehman's current global options team is under the management of Cameron Miller for vanillas and Pritpal Gill in exotic options and structuring.
Meanwhile, recruitment sources in New York report that Merrill has also lost its former co-head of forex trading, Adam Kreysar, based in New York. A spokesperson at the bank declined to comment on that speculation, although a source on the trading floor confirmed that he was not at his desk last week.
Kreysar joined Merrill Lynch two years ago from UBS, where he was head of global foreign exchange options.
His departure is thought to be linked to a raft of restructuring at the US investment bank's forex group, although the bank has declined to confirm details of any changes. It would leave Marcus Browning, based in London, as sole head of foreign exchange trading at Merrill.