CIMB hires senior property and insurance analysts for HK/China

Andrew Lawrence and Mark Kellock join from Barclays to head up this research. Also, CIMB beefs up Singapore coverage with one new hire and transfers from Hong Kong.

CIMB has added another couple of senior research analysts to its growing team in Asia with the hire of Andrew Lawrence as head of Hong Kong and China property research, and Mark Kellock as head of Hong Kong and China insurance research.

The two hires will give the Malaysian bank a much stronger footprint in Hong Kong/China and will bring these markets on par with its research coverage elsewhere in Asia.

“It means that our position in terms of our research coverage is now what our clients require for us to be a major waterfront firm,” says Jim McCafferty, co-head of equities research.

Like in other markets around the region, the research team will now cover all the top-20 stocks in Hong Kong/China, whereas previously there was a noticeable void with regard to insurance companies and Hong Kong property developers, he added.

The latest move comes after CIMB hired four people for its research team in March. As reported earlier, Jason Todd was brought on board as head of regional strategy; Jimmy Wong joined as a China oil and gas analyst; Hans Fan joined as a member of the China and Asia financials team; and Rohit Sharma was hired as a quantitative analyst.

Lawrence and Kellock are both joining from Barclays. The UK firm hired them both to be part of the new Asia-Pacific ex-Japan equities research division that it launched in September 2010 — Lawrence as head of regional property research and Kellock as head of insurance research.

Lawrence has more than 20 years of experience in property and financial markets, while Kellock has worked in equity research since 1997. Both of them have established client followings, which should help to further develop the ranking of the CIMB research team with top clients.

Following the addition of South Korea and India in the past couple of months, CIMB now has on-the-ground research presence in nine countries throughout Asia-Pacific and it is ready to add Taiwan as well once its new license gets approved. This includes smaller markets like Thailand, which, according to McCafferty, differentiates CIMB from many of the bulge-bracket firms that are choosing to cover smaller markets either from a regional hub or through a joint venture partner.

“We have on the ground presence in all of those countries and that means that the proximity to businesses is much stronger. We feel we can offer our big institutional investor clients a local flavour of what goes on in these markets, which is quite important where retail, high-net-worth and smaller investment management operations have an influence on stocks,” he said.

Lawrence will join two property analysts already in place, who are covering the real estate sector in mainland China, and will be expected to make one additional hire for the Hong Kong and China property team. Before he joined Barclays he also worked with Samsung Securities, Deutsche Bank and Kleinwort Benson. He also spent four years running the Asian portfolios of two real estate-dedicated hedge funds.

Kellock will start up CIMB’s research coverage of insurance companies in Hong Kong and China. He too has a background with Deutsche Bank, both in Asia and Australia, and also worked with Macquarie before he joined Barclays.

One year after CIMB agreed to buy some of Royal Bank of Scotland’s investment banking business in the region, the bank is also starting to integrate the former RBS team more into the main organisation. The senior RBS bankers were initially given co-head titles in their various areas, but in practice the business was still split into an Asean part run by CIMB bankers and a non-Asean part run by the former RBS guys.

During the past few months a decision has been made to bring someone from the old RBS team into the Asean mix to help drive synergies, and in the next few weeks, Manoj Agarwal will move to Singapore and take on a new role as head of corporate client solutions for Singapore, which effectively means that he will be head of investment banking. Agarwal is currently co-head of equity capital markets for the region, but at RBS he was also head of corporate finance for Asia-Pacific and did a stint running the equity capital markets business in India.

According to Matthew Kirkby, co-head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific and country head for North Asia, the move is driven partly by a recognition that CIMB has been punching below its weight in Singapore. Historically, it has been viewed very much as a small- and mid-cap house in this market and it now wants to beef up its presence and do large-cap transactions as well. With its greater regional footprint, the bank also sees itself as a natural house for international listings in Singapore.

“Putting someone like Manoj down there can be an enabler or an accelerator for getting that business going,” Kirkby said.

The increased focus on Singapore includes brokerage as well. CIMB has a strong position there in terms of overall market share on the back of the acquisition of GK Goh Securities and last year ranked as the number one broker for the first time. However, a lot of this business comes from retail and domestic institutions, as well as from the bank’s own trading team.

When it comes to the share of wallet from foreign institutional clients, CIMB ranks outside the top-10 in Singapore, said Peter Irvine, another former RBS banker, who is now deputy head of institutional and retail equities at CIMB. And that is a weaker position than in the other major Asean markets (Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand).

To remedy that, it moved one senior sales person from Hong Kong to Singapore earlier this year and has hired one another person for the Singapore team. Both of them will focus specifically on covering foreign institutions in Singapore and the rest of the Asean markets.

The new hire is Alun Jones, who is joining in mid-May from BNP Paribas in Singapore, where he has been involved in regional sales since 2006. He started his career with Samsung Securities in Seoul as a North Asia specialist 16 years ago and took a detour via London before coming to Singapore. In between Samsung Securities and BNP he also worked for SG Securities and ABN Amro.

The transfer from Hong Kong is Cecilia Lee, who joined CIMB Securities in 2007 with a focus on regional sales. During her 17 years in the industry, she has also worked for Lehman Brothers in New York, Tokyo and Seoul, and before that she was with Jardine Fleming OrdMinnett and Scudder Stevens & Clark in New York.

On the ECM side, signs of the CIMB’s attempts to beef up in Singapore are already showing. It is currently one of four bookrunners on the up to $1.1 billion IPO of Macquarie-sponsored Asian Pay Television Trust and recently landed one of four bookrunner mandates for another business trust IPO in Singapore, this one with an Indian sponsor. It was also one of five joint global coordinators and bookrunners on Religare Health Trust’s $416 million IPO in October last year.

The ECM business in the region will continue to be run by Agarwal’s co-head, Patrick Tan, who is based in Kuala Lumpur. However, Tan will keep his co-head title and Kirkby will also be getting more involved in the ECM business.

Separately, another former RBS banker, Mike Netterfield, who is currently co-head of corporate finance for the region, will be moving back to Australia for a new role with the bank in the next few months. However, his move is driven by personal reasons.

According to Kirkby, the bank is still looking at options for his replacement. Netterfield is currently sharing the co-head of corporate finance job with Ong Ling Heng.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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