Citi appoints ex-Morgan Stanley Asia CEO Alasdair Morrison as senior advisor

Alasdair Morrison, a former CEO of Morgan Stanley Asia and former group managing director of Jardine Matheson, joins Citi as senior advisor.
 Alasdair Morrison
Alasdair Morrison

Citi announced yesterday that it has appointed Alasdair Morrison as senior advisor in Asia.

In this newly created role, Morrison, a former group managing director of Jardine Matheson and chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley Asia, will support the ongoing expansion of Citi's global banking franchise in the region, which is responsible for the coverage of Citi's largest institutional clients and for delivering corporate and investment banking products and advice to these clients. Morrison will also join Citi's senior strategic advisory group.

According to sources, Morrison was already out meeting clients yesterday. He is well connected among the decision-makers of Hong Kong's biggest corporations and, as one Citi insider put it, "he may be able to open doors fully that were half closed before".

Sources say that the effort to woo Morrison to the job was driven from Hong Kong by Stephen Bird and Shirish Apte, joint-CEOs for Citi Asia-Pacific, in an effort to make use of his excellent relationships across Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, to add extra firepower. As a senior advisor, Morrison won't have a management role, so he won't be stepping on the toes of the men who headhunted him or Citi's global banking head Farhan Faruqui, who in early 2009 was tasked with merging the corporate bank and the investment bank in Asia and recently forecast a bumper 2010. CEO Vikram Pandit was supportive of the effort, particularly given his and Morrison's common Morgan Stanley background.

Indeed, Morrison notes his headhunters in the press release announcing the appointment. "With Vikram Pandit leading Citigroup into a new era, Citi's prominence and continued success in Asia-Pacific is the best example of the future potential of Citigroup globally. I am delighted to have the opportunity to complement the excellent work being achieved by Stephen, Shirish and the Citi Asia team," Morrison said.

"Alasdair brings nearly 40 years of experience and a deep knowledge of Asia-Pacific to bear in helping us further enhance the value we bring to our clients," said Bird in the same release.
"This newly created senior advisor role underlines our commitment to provide our clients access to more senior resources and highlights the ongoing growth opportunities we see across our global banking franchise. Alasdair is highly respected in the industry and his partnership with our senior team will help increase our ability to build our business and grow with our clients," added Apte.
For proof of Morrison's connections, one need only look at the number of non-executive directorships he holds. He is non-executive chairman of Kang & Company and North Asia Investment Corporation, a non-executive director of Pacific Basin Shipping, the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange and Grosvenor Group and a member of Bloomberg's Asia-Pacific Advisory Board.

From 2000 to April 2007 he was variously CEO and chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. The rationale for Morgan Stanley hiring him in 2000 still holds true today and explains why Citi is making the same call. As former FinanceAsia editor Steve Irvine wrote in 2007 when Morgan Stanley announced that Morrison was retiring: "He was hired into the American bank by fellow Briton and former Morgan Stanley Asia CEO and president, Mario Francescotti, in August 2000. It was a hire that surprised some -- especially given the gaping cultural differences between a gentlemanly hong like Jardines, and a US investment bank."

Francescotti explained the rationale for the decision in an interview with FinanceAsia at the time: "Alasdair has been in Asia for 30 years, which is longer than some of our bankers have been alive. He knows the region well, is committed to being here full term. He is also a man of high integrity and has a strong work ethic. Alasdair has been a CEO. He knows what it is like being a CEO in Asia. He can deal with other CEOs in Asia with the same mindset. He has had to deal with the issues that other Asian companies are facing now -- restructuring and building shareholder value. So for us, having a CEO mindset and being able to deal with other CEOs on a strategic basis, as well as his character and experience, made Alasdair very attractive for us."

Morrison worked at Jardine Matheson -- one of Asia's oldest companies -- just prior to joining Morgan Stanley. He spent 28 years with Jardines, and became the company's boss (or taipan) in 1994 after holding roles such as head of personnel and running the firm's property business, Hongkong Land.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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