Barclays in Asia loses another senior executive

Matthew Ginsburg steps down as regional head of investment banking to take a position in the firm outside the region.
Matthew Ginsburg
Matthew Ginsburg

Barclays in Asia has been rocked by another senior departure with Matthew Ginsburg stepping down from his role as regional head of investment banking to take a position within the firm outside the region.

The move is a further blow to morale at Barclays in Asia, which has seen a series of high-profile departures in recent weeks on top of a swathe of announced job cuts globally.

Robert Morrice, chairman and chief executive of Barclays Asia-Pacific, announced his retirement this month, after 17 years at the bank, and Jason Rynbeck, Barclays’ vice-chairman of mergers and acquisitions for Asia-Pacific, left the bank for another firm on May 8.

In the interim, Andrew Jones will step in as head of the investment bank in the Asia-Pacific region, according to an internal memo seen by FinanceAsia.

Jones will oversee the business alongside his responsibilities as co-chief executive of Asia-Pacific until a permanent successor is appointed. 



“Matthew Ginsburg has decided to step down as Head of IBD Asia-Pacific, after significantly developing the franchise in the region and establishing businesses in M&A and Equity Capital Markets that allow us to compete alongside global competitors,” the memo said.

He is considering other senior roles within Barclays outside the region.

Other investment banks and securities firms have scaled back in Asia since the global financial crisis as competition intensified and costs jumped.

Nomura, RBS, Samsung Securities and Daiwa are among those to have significantly pulled back.

Barclays was widely seen as the holdout until now. Many bankers and headhunters speculated how long it would be able to support the cost of high-profile investment bankers without seeing significant fruits from their labour.

Barclays hired Ginsburg from Morgan Stanley in 2009 as part of a drive to bulk up in equities and M&A; its traditional strength being in debt markets.

He brought with him rainmakers such as Ed King from Morgan Stanley and succeeded in landing high-profile M&A mandates such as helping Smithfield on its sale to China’s WH Group. Barclays also helped Chinese internet firm Ten Cent with its $2 billion purchase of a stake in JD.com.

According to Dealogic data, in 2009 Barclays ranked 33rd in terms of  M&A advisory for Asia ex-Japan, with a total deal value of $3.6bn. In 2013, it ranked 8th with a deal value of $26bn. For 2014 year-to-date it ranks 26th with a deal value of $3.3bn.

Barclays built out its equities platform; starting by bulking up in Japan, then Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and India. The equities trading division had a profitable year last year, helped by a surge in Japan’s stock market, and so far this year has had a boost from India.

In 2009 the UK bank ranked 42nd in terms of ECM deal value ($683m), and in 2013 it ranked 56th ($494m), according to Dealogic. For 2014 year-to-date it ranks 39th ($319m).

Refocus

Barclays’ investment in the region has slowed following the global financial crisis and a subsequent rise in regulatory costs.

The UK bank’s appetite to support the high cost of an investment bank in build-out phase, which took UBS decades to achieve during more favourable banking conditions, has wavered in the last few years.

Barclays finally said this month that it is narrowing its focus in Asia.

The restructuring is part of a global push to boost returns by cutting costs and deploying capital more efficiently. Last week Barclays confirmed it would cut 7,000 investment banking jobs by 2016 and create a bad bank of unwanted assets, including non-core commodities.

Following a strategic review, the UK bank said it would cut a total of 19,000 jobs over the next three years and dramatically slim down in an effort to improve results.

Equities and corporate advisory are likely to be scaled back less as these divisions consume less in the way of capital.

Barclays announced a 41% fall in revenues at its core fixed-income trading business in the most recent quarter.

Old Asia hand

Ginsburg, who is born and raised in Boston and a graduate of Harvard, is also an old Asia hand, having first arrived in the region in the late 1980s. His first posting was in Japan, but he has been based in Hong Kong since 1992.

Ginsburg joined First Boston in New York, his career really kicked into life when he was sent to Tokyo in the late 1980s at the height of Japan’s so-called economic miracle. There he was able to use language skills picked up at college. By 1992, after completing an MBA, he rejoined the bank and headed to Hong Kong to be part of First Boston’s newly created three-person Asia-Pacific M&A team.

His career path also took a significant turn when he was hired by Morgan Stanley in 1995 to run the firm’s nascent M&A department at a time when deregulation was a theme with many Asian governments and newly licensed domestic companies were looking for multinational companies to come in as strategic investors to help fund and manage build-outs.

After a couple of years as chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley's investment banking business, Ginsburg was named head of FIG, and became heavily involved with recapitalisations and M&A in the financial sector in Korea as well as bank restructurings in China. Among the many high-profile deals he worked on during this time are: the sale of Korea First Bank to Standard Chartered; Shinhan's acquisition of Chohung Bank; the sales of Korea's two premier asset managers, KITC and DITC; the Hong Kong IPOs for two mainland insurers (PICC and Ping An); and the first ever listing of a Chinese bank outside the mainland -- China Construction Bank's $9 billion IPO in Hong Kong in 2005.

He took over as head of investment banking in 2006 when his mentor, Mike Berchtold, announced his retirement from the industry.



Before joining Morgan Stanley in 1995 he worked with First Boston as part of its three-person M&A team in Hong Kong. And with a wife who is from a long established Hong Kong family with maternal roots in the Philippines.

He left Morgan Stanley in 2009, for the challenge of building a broad-based investment banking franchise at Barclays which had recently acquired Lehman Brothers' US business.

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