Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has appointed Alan Roch as its head of bond syndicate for Asia-Pacific. He has been with the bank since 2003, having originally joined ABN Amro, and re-located from London to Singapore last week. He was previously head of syndicate for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Ceemea) at RBS.
Roch will report to Myles Clarke and Victor Forte, co-heads of global syndicate. Locally, he will also report to Pierre Ferland, head of markets Asia-Pacific, and Matthew Kirkby, head of global banking Asia-Pacific.
“Our franchise in Asia is growing strongly and Alan’s emerging market background will be a strong complement to the requirements of Asia bond syndicate, and will ensure our ambitions for the region are met,” the bank said in an internal memo.
It is no secret that RBS has been on the lookout for a bond syndicate head in Asia during the past few months — the bank was widely rumoured to be in talks to hire Mark Leahy before he joined Nomura.
The Asia bond syndicate role was previously covered by John Wade, who held a dual role that also included debt origination, as well as syndication of other debt products, including loans. Origination has become his main focus during the past few months as the firm seeks to further separate its syndicate and origination functions in Asia, as well as globally, according to a source. Wade continues to oversee RBS’s Asia-Pacific debt capital markets business.
According to the source, the separation between the syndicate and origination teams is aimed at ensuring that the syndicate team acts as a buffer between the banking team, which has access to sensitive M&A and other deal information, and the sales and trading team, which trades on such information.
“The banking side will not have any interaction with the sales and trading team — and any interaction the banking team has with markets will go through syndicate,” said the source. “Theoretically, at least, this decreases the likelihood of deal information being leaked from an originator to a sales and trading guy.”
Banks on the street take different approaches to this, however. Japanese bank Nomura hired Mark Leahy in a dual role, heading both debt origination and syndicate for Asia in April this year.
At that time, Nomura’s head of investment banking for Asia ex-Japan, Patrick Schmitz-Mortkramer, stated in a release that Leahy’s appointment “will bring the firm’s investment banking and fixed income businesses even closer together to deliver the most effective and comprehensive product offering to clients”.
According to a source close to Nomura, the syndicate and debt origination teams are separate, but at the managerial level it is not necessarily a conflict of interest to have the same person heading both teams. This, he said, is not dissimilar from the way a country head at a bank overlooks different divisions.
Roch’s transfer from London to Asia also highlights the lack of experienced bond syndicate bankers in Asia. In May, after searching for a banker to head its syndicate desk in Asia for many months, Goldman Sachs finally hired Julian Trott, an emerging markets specialist who had spent most of his career in London. Trott had previously worked with Merrill Lynch, as its London-based head of financing for Ceemea, until he left in 2010.
“The market is tight,” said one senior bond banker. “It’s hard to hire a good quality bond syndicate banker in Asia. The fact that RBS has to transfer its London based emerging markets syndicate banker to Asia reflects that.”