Citi boosts Indonesia research with two key hires

Citi boosts Indonesia research with two key hires
Ferry Wong joins as a director and head of research in Jakarta

Citi has made two significant additions to its Indonesian research coverage. Almost exactly a year ago, the US bank gained a seat on the Jakarta stock exchange and during the past 12 months has been busy building its equities operation in the country.

Ferry Wong is joining as a director and head of research in Jakarta, after similar roles at BNP Paribas and most recently for more than three years at Macquarie Securities. He replaces Alex Wreksoremboko, who left earlier this year, and will report to Brent Robinson, head of pan-Asia research for Citi.

Wong is in charge of a team of analysts who cover the consumer, energy and resources, and banking sectors. His duties extend to developing market strategies, and he has his own specific responsibilities for the automotive sector and mid- and small-cap stocks.

“[Wong’s] appointment reflects our strong focus on enhancing our Indonesia and emerging markets research coverage,” said Robinson.

Citi has also brought on board a Jakarta-based economist. Helmi Arman joined in mid-July, and reports to Asia-Pacific chief economist Johanna Chua, who was previously responsible for Indonesia economic coverage in addition to her wider regional role.

Arman was hired from Bank Danamon Indonesia, where he was an economist and bond market strategist. Prior to that, he was an economist with Bahana Securities between 2005 and 2008, and an economist with the Asean Secretariat for a year before entering the private sector.

“The build-out of our research team in Indonesia is a key element of our broader goal of growing our franchise in the Asean market and we will continue to invest in our business to help our regional and global clients who are increasingly looking to invest in Asian equities given the region’s growth prospects,” said Robinson.

Last September, Citi launched a brokerage business in Malaysia — a month after doing so in Indonesia — and set up a research platform in the Philippines at the end of 2010. It also took a minority stake in a leading broker in Vietnam, Horizon Securities, in June 2011, making it one of the first foreign financial institutions to partner with a domestic Vietnamese securities firm.

Indeed, Asia-Pacific is a key region for Citi in general and has played a major role in the bank’s return to profitability since 2008/2009, generating more than $10 billion of profit during the past two years, and is the largest region for Citi globally in 2010, according to a spokesperson.

Citi has raised more than $4.5 billion for Indonesian companies in local and international capital markets so far this year, including rights issues for Bank Mandiri and Bank Danamon, and an IPO for Garuda.

Citi has been doing business in Indonesia since 1968 and now has 22 branches across major cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Medan, Semarang and Denpasar, and employs about 5,000 staff. The country was picked as one of 11 countries that have “the most promising growth prospects” in a report called Global Growth Generators: Moving beyond Emerging Markets and Bric, written earlier this year by Citi’s global economist Willem Buiter.

“We will continue to invest for growth across our businesses in corporate, commercial and investment banking as well as our consumer banking businesses,” said the spokesperson.

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