RBS adds to investment banking team with senior hires

Betty Zhao, RBS

Almost four months after the bank started operations at its securities joint venture with Guolian Securities in China, Royal Bank of Scotland has hired Betty Zhao as head of its China origination group. The new position suggests the British bank intends to become a serious competitor when it comes to winning business from Chinese companies.

Zhao, who joins from J.P. Morgan, will be responsible for originating investment banking deals from China, including equity and debt transactions. She will be based in Hong Kong and will report to Sherry Liu, chairman and CEO of RBS in China, who herself moved across from J.P. Morgan in April this year.

RBS has been strengthening its China team since it became the first UK bank with a right to underwrite equity and debt deals in China’s domestic market through its securities JV, Hua Ying Securities. In August it brought on board Charles Zhou, formerly with Nomura, as a managing director of China origination. A 12-year China investment banking veteran, Zhou is focusing on the origination of capital financing and financial advisory deals from both state-owned enterprises and high-growth private companies.

But the hire of Zhao is also part of a wider move by the UK bank to boost its investment banking franchise in Asia. According to a press release, it has also hired Richard Fischer from pan-Asian investment bank TC Capital as a managing director in its corporate finance division in Indonesia. The intention is for Fischer to take on the dual roles as head of securities for Indonesia and president director once approved by the country’s capital market supervisory board (Bapepam).

RBS has also strengthened its energy and resources coverage team with two new hires. Rick Henry, who has spent 17 years with Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and London, joins as managing director in the Asia-Pacific energy and resources team and Terry Zhi is joining from CLSA as a director in the energy and resources team in China.

Both of them will be based in Hong Kong. Henry will report to Viral Gathani, head of energy and resources for Asia, while Zhi will answer to Qing Zhu, who is head of the China energy and resources team. Zhu was hired from J.P. Morgan in June this year.

“Asia-Pacific is a very important market for RBS, where we see tremendous growth potential,” said Matthew Kirkby, Asia-Pacific head of global banking and global head of corporate finance. “These new appointments demonstrate our continuing efforts to expand our investment banking franchise across the region. It also underscores our ability to attract top talent in our chosen markets.”

Kirkby also referred to the “wealth of experience and deep market knowledge” brought by the new hires and said they will be “tremendous additions” to RBS’s global banking franchise in the region.

Zhao has 20 years of experience in business management, including 11 years as an investment banker in both China and the US. At J.P. Morgan she was a managing director and head of China financial institutions and real estate. Prior to that, she worked at Morgan Stanley, focusing on financial institutions, real estate and resources clients.

Fischer has worked at TC Capital since 2009, responsible for origination and execution of Indonesian transactions and for advising large Indonesian business groups on local and cross-border transactions. He was also a director at PT Indorub, an Indonesia plantation company. Before joining TC Capital, he spent more than 12 years at Merrill Lynch in New York, Indonesia, San Francisco and Singapore, focusing primarily on Asian equities. While at Merrill, he was also president director for Indonesia from 1999 to 2004 and has a lot of key relationships in the country.

He started his banking career with Morgan Stanley Asset Management in Singapore and later also worked with ING Barings in Indonesia and New York, covering US clients investing in Asian equities. At RBS he will be based in Jakarta, and aside from heading up the securities franchise he will also be responsible for enhancing RBS’s client relationships with local Indonesian corporations.

Henry has worked in investment banking and mergers and acquisitions for 20 years, focusing mainly on chemicals, metals and mining, oil and gas, and utilities. His most recent position with Deutsche Bank was co-head of M&A for Europe for energy and resources.

Zhi has spent 11 years with CLSA, most recently as a director of investment banking of China execution, which made her responsible for leading the execution of equity capital market and M&A transactions.

These investment banking hires come on the back of a series of new additions to RBS’s cash equities business in the region, including several team heads, analysts and sales people. According to an earlier statement, the hires will “substantially strengthen” the bank’s equity research and distribution platform.

Among the hires are Aiden Bradley, who is joining from Goldman Sachs in Australia as regional head of oil and gas research; Jenny Cosgrove, who is coming on board as head of utilities and alternative energy research — a new sector for RBS; Larry Cho, who joins from Yuanta as head of mid-cap research; and Tommy Mok, who has spent 10 years at China Mobile and is joining to cover the Chinese telecom industry.

Earlier this month, RBS also announced the hire of five new analysts and three new sales people in India as it continues to strengthen its onshore equities platform here.

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