China’s top bankers

China’s top bankers: Day 1

We list 30 executives who are shaping the mainland’s banking landscape.

Investment banking in China is a unique proposition. The much over-used term, guanxi (or relationships), is just the tip of the iceberg. You need to know the players not just to win a deal, but also to get it to clear regulatory hurdles. You also need to read tea leaves: who can (and is willing) to make a decision changes, sometimes rapidly. And you need to be able to make a case for new regulations, products and policies — an argument couched in economic and political language that makes sense to a variety of people who could block your efforts. And while you do all this, you need to keep a low profile. But to do more in the future, you need to be well known.

Many of the people who made our list of influential decision makers — either as investment banking rainmakers or economists and regulators with vision or bankers building global franchises in China — have been nurturing the investment banking landscape in China for the past 20 years. In due course, investment banking in China will be no different than it is in Hong Kong, London or New York, and people will forget (or never even know) how difficult it was to pave the way, unless we salute the path breakers now.

We are featuring 10 individuals from the list today and will publish the remaining 20 during the next two days.


Shanghai-based Andrew Au has been running Citi’s China business since 2008 and during his tenure it has grown rapidly. In 2011, under Au’s stewardship, the bank’s China revenues and operating profit grew by double-digits. Au pioneered Citi’s global China desk programme, designed to support Chinese companies expanding their businesses internationally. And he ensured that Citi was the first global bank to win approval to launch a proprietary cards business in China, encompassing both commercial cards and retail credit cards. Au has also overseen the launch of a series of lending companies in recognition of the need for credit in under-served regions and counties in China. Critics say Citi is behind the curve on the securities front — it only just received approval this year to establish a securities joint venture with Orient Securities, a local Shanghai brokerage firm owned by the city’s municipal government. But Au’s focus has been on building a business that supports large local and international companies, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and he’s focused on retail banking services, such as smart banking outlets, that differentiate it from the hordes of existing banks. In short, Au’s plan to build the business has been in keeping with Citi’s strengths, which is good for both China and Citi.


With almost 20 years of China investment banking experience, Catherine Cai is at the front line of helping Chinese companies on capital raising and advisory across both private companies and state-owned enterprises.

Her philosophy throughout her career has been to put client interests first, build with a sustainable long-term view and to closely follow the development of the companies she advises.

Her experience has mirrored the dynamic growth and evolution of the Chinese financial landscape during the past two decades. Since joining Bank of America Merrill Lynch 12 years ago, she has played a critical role in originating and executing a number of landmark IPO and M&A transactions. These have included deals for China Telecom, China Mobile, PetroChina, Cosco, Cnooc, China Merchants Bank, Bank of Communications, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Kunlun Energy, Beijing Enterprises, China Eastern Airlines and Citic Securities, among many others.

Catherine’s contribution and counsel to many of China’s leading corporations are reflected in a roster of longstanding client relationships and an extensive network of CEOs, government officials and influential investors.


Henry Cai has been dedicated to corporate reform for Chinese industrial and commercial enterprises since the 1980s. Cai was closely involved in

many of the first wave of Chinese enterprises to be listed on the Hong Kong H-share market and US stock exchanges, including the 1993 listings of Shanghai Petrochemical and Tsingtao Beer. And he has played an important role in drafting and amending many legal and regulatory standards, including the PRC Enterprise Law and PRC Securities Law. In recent years, Cai played a role in a number of milestone IPOs and M&A deals for Chinese state-owned enterprises such as Bank of China, China Merchant Bank, China Minsheng Bank, China Pacific Insurance and Shanghai Pharma. Since the 1990s, Cai has made significant contributions to the establishment and development of many Chinese private enterprises, which earned him the nickname “the grandfather of Chinese capital markets”.

Cai takes the view that Chinese private enterprises should be the driving engine of China’s economy, and China enterprises should enjoy a China premium. In total, Cai facilitated the financing of more than $25.8 billion by Chinese private enterprises, and some deals have even become case studies in Harvard’s MBA courses.


Wei Sun Christianson has led Morgan Stanley in China since 2006, last year expanding her China CEO role by also becoming Co-CEO for Asia-Pacific, alongside Bill Strong. Under her leadership, last June Morgan Stanley launched its China domestic securities business, Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities. In May that year, it announced the formation of a local currency private equity fund management company, and both new platforms built on the firm’s existing onshore footprint in China, which includes commercial banking, asset management and trust services. Today, Morgan Stanley has more onshore business licences in China than any other global investment bank, in no small measure down to Christianson.

Before joining Morgan Stanley, Christianson played an important role in creating the Hong Kong listing rules for Chinese IPOs, when she worked at the SFC in the 1990s. Since she joined Morgan Stanley in 1998, Christianson has been involved in, and led the executions of, many landmark China privatisations, including Sinopec, China Life, Chalco, Sinotrans and China Oilfield Services. She has also led the execution of several significant M&A transactions by overseas listed Chinese companies.


Fang Fang, who has been instrumental in driving J.P. Morgan’s China strategy, is undoubtedly one of the most influential people working at a foreign bank in China.

During his career he has worked on projects at the finance ministry, been CFO at a state-owned conglomerate and was appointed as a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2008. As the only Wall Street representative in China’s upper house he has advocated for the internationalisation of the renminbi and helped position Hong Kong as a launch pad for Chinese companies looking to invest overseas.

At J.P. Morgan, Fang led the team that worked on the first “A-then-H” simultaneous listing of a Chinese company (China Railway Group’s $5.6 billion IPO); the first perpetual convertible preferred financing by a Chinese company (the $900 million issuance by Sino Ocean Land); and the first hostile takeover by a Chinese state-owned entity of a listed company in the West (Sinosteel’s $1.3 billion acquisition and privatisation of Midwest Corporation in Australia).

Earlier in his career, he led the finance function at Beijing Enterprises Holdings, an investment holding conglomerate whose listing in Hong Kong in 1997 was the hottest IPO on record at the time. While there, he also pioneered the country’s first venture capital fund in 1999.



Named by FinanceAsia in 2003 as one of the Top Ten Influential Leaders of China’s Capital Markets, Fenglei Fang has been a pioneer in the country’s investment banking industry since its inception. He’s one of those dealmakers one shouldn’t take lightly: he may come across like the former People’s Liberation Army soldier he was, but he is also one of China’s savviest dealmakers.

He was an architect in the establishment of the country’s first investment banking joint ventures, having co-founded China International Capital Corporation in 1995 — but in due course he left the venture that seemed hampered by cultural challenges. Then he worked at the Hong Kong investment banking arms of Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, before he struck another ground-breaking deal — setting up Beijing Gao Hua Securities, Goldman Sachs’s joint venture partner in China in 2004. Cynics warned that Goldman would be burnt, and he’d leave them too. They crowed when Fang stepped back from day-to-day duties at Goldman Sachs and launched the Hopu fund in 2007. But Fang still owns a stake in that Goldman venture and remains the chairman. To boot, Goldman (and also Singapore’s Temasek) were cornerstone investors in Hopu’s first $2.5 billion fund, proving he was a dealmaker unparalleled.


Hu Zhanghong is the principal founder of CCB International (CCBI), which is the wholly-owned investment banking unit of China Construction Bank — the world’s second-biggest bank in terms of market capitalisation.

Apart from being instrumental in the establishment of the company’s organisational and management structure, Hu has also been the mastermind behind CCBI’s hundreds of investment and financing projects. He provides a combination of his on-the-ground knowledge of the China market and its regulatory policy as well as global expertise. Under his stewardship, CCBI has played increasingly important roles as investor, sponsor, underwriter and financial adviser in the international capital markets. In 2009, the five-year-old CCBI took part in 27 equity transactions with a total value of $51 billion. In 2011, the bank completed 14 M&A projects with a total value of $2.4 billion. Hu also spearheaded a direct investment platform for CCB in Hong Kong — CCB International Asset Management.

You could say Hu is bringing up a child prodigy in China’s investment banking market.


If you don’t know Jun Ma, you should. He has published eight books and several hundred articles on the Chinese economy, global economy and financial markets. Prior to joining Deutsche Bank in 2000, Ma worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from 1992-2000 and prior to that he was an economic research fellow at the Development Research Centre of China’s State Council. Ma has also been frequently invited by government agencies for policy discussions.

In August 2011, Ma was the first economist on the street to forecast a slowing China, noting the significant impact of the European crisis on China. The industry and many officials consider his research on renminbi internationalisation as a roadmap for the currency. And, indeed, a few of his policy recommendations have been adopted by decision-makers. For example, in May 2012, Ma was the first to warn that “pro-cyclical regulation was a downside risk to the economy”. The Chinese government subsequently relaxed some of its stringent risk guidance on lending. In short, when Ma writes, people listen.


Stephen Roach makes this list because his views on China help shape the political dialogue between China and the US. Roach was chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and the firm’s chief economist for 17 years — and in that role he led many road trips to China where he engaged with senior officials. His writing was widely disseminated in the international media, and he frequently presented expert testimony before the US Congress. In short, he influenced both China and US policymakers and business leaders. Now he’s a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and a senior lecturer at Yale’s School of Management, and a regular contributor to Project Syndicate. At Yale, he introduced new courses for undergraduate and graduate students on the “The Next China”, which means he’s arguably shaping the future leaders’ of the US thinking on China. His most recent book, The Next Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Globalisation, analyses Asia’s economic imbalances and the dangers of the region’s dependence on Western consumers. Roach says he is hard at work on his next book on the US-China economic relationship.


Minggao Shen has been shaping views on China inside and outside of the country. Shen is now Citi’s head of China research, but he also worked for a year-long stint (July 2008 to August 2009) as chief economist with Beijing-based Caijing magazine.

Prior to that, he was chief economist and director of economic and market analysis at Citi in China, taught at Peking University and worked as a research fellow at two policy arms of the Chinese government, the Research Centre for Rural Development and the Development Research Centre, both under the State Council, from 1988 to 2004.

Consider some of his calls: He is one of a few people that started to notice local government vehicle debt problems early on. He commented on it together with his former colleagues at Caijing at the start of 2008, almost a year before the market started to worry about it.

In June 2010, he wrote that China is likely entering a decade of wage inflation, with wages of unskilled labourers rising 15% to 20% a year, which has come to pass.

On the bright side, he also argues that the renminbi could become a global top-five currency by 2020.


¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
Share our publication on social media
Share our publication on social media