Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) has hired CLSA’s Paul Lai for a new role as head of corporate and investment banking for Asia, as the Spanish bank continues to expand in the region, an external spokeswoman confirmed yesterday.
Lai was most recently head of Hong Kong and Greater China investment banking at CLSA, which he joined in January 2010. He left the Hong Kong-based brokerage and investment bank at the end of April.
At BBVA he will report to Gonzalo Torano, who is managing director for Asia.
BBVA has been building an investment banking presence in Asia in recent years, as it tries to benefit from the increasing cross border activity between Asia and Latin America. It describes itself as the only European bank with a leading position in Latin America to also have full operational capability in Asia.
It opened its first Asian branch in Hong Kong in 1985 and now also has branches in Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo, as well as representative offices in Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sydney. It has a strategic partnership with China Citic Bank, in which it holds a 15% stake, and also owns 30% of Hong Kong-based Citic International Financial Holdings.
Lai was head of Hong Kong investment banking at HSBC between April 2005 and early 2008. In September 2008 he joined Societe Generale where he stayed for just over a year before moving across to CLSA. Before he joined HSBC in 2005 he worked at UBS, also with a focus on Hong Kong. His earlier resume also includes three years with ABN Amro Hong Kong and six years in the US where he worked in real estate development, equity research and financial consulting.
CLSA is looking to fill the gap left by Lai’s departure with an external hire, according to a source, although the new person may not get the exact same title as Lai had. The firm currently has about 12 people focusing on China investment banking.