Gary Kuo, Barclays Capital’s co-head of investment banking for Greater China, has left after less than a year with the firm to join Citi. Kuo will take up a position as vice-chairman of Asia global banking, a significantly bigger remit than the one he had at Barclays.
Before he joined the UK bank, Kuo worked for about nine years at Morgan Stanley in Taiwan, initially as head of investment banking and from 2006 also as country head for Taiwan. He was well regarded within the investment banking community in Taiwan for his work on high-profile M&A and capital markets deals, and played a big role in making Morgan Stanley one of the top international investment banks in the country.
He was convinced to join Barclays by his former boss at Morgan Stanley, Matthew Ginsburg, who was head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific when he left the US bank in June 2009 to join Barclays in the same role. In his efforts to build an equities franchise virtually from scratch and an M&A team out of a small base, Ginsburg has poached a number of former colleagues at Morgan Stanley, including Peter Ding, who was hired at the same time as Kuo and shared the title of co-head of investment banking for Greater China with him. Kuo, who was also chairman of investment banking for Taiwan, was based in Taipei.
The fact that Kuo is leaving Barclays so soon after joining — he was hired in early July last year and started work in October — is probably less of a reflection of the Barclays franchise than it is of the great opportunity offered to him at Citi. Sources say he was keen on getting a regional role and as part of the global banking leadership team at Citi he will also be involved not just with the investment bank, but with the corporate bank as well.
Kuo is also expected to continue to play a big role in Taiwan, given that Citi’s former head of global banking for Taiwan, YT Du left earlier this year to become vice-chairman of Nan Shan Life Insurance. It was unclear yesterday whether Kuo will also be based in Taiwan, but sources at Citi suggested that this was likely. He is expected to start his new job in about three months and will report to Farhan Faruqui, regional head of global banking.
“[Kuo] brings extensive senior client relationships and a successful track record to the role. His experience will be highly valuable to our global banking franchise as we continue to execute on our Asia and Greater China growth strategies,” said Faruqui in a release announcing the new hire.
Citi is particularly strong in corporate banking around the region, but is also viewed as a top tier investment bank. At the upcoming FinanceAsia country awards dinner, where we will recognise the top banks in individual countries in Asia during the June 2010 to May 2011 period, Citi will pick up the award for best foreign commercial bank in six countries and the award for best foreign investment bank in four countries — India, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
At Morgan Stanley, Kuo was a member of the Asia executive committee and was closely involved in a range of regional growth initiatives. He has also worked with blue-chip clients across the region, including China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, and has proven experience in expanding businesses, Citi said.
Since Barclays is still in the process of building its M&A and equities businesses, it is less clear how Kuo has been able to influence the business there since he joined. However, the bank has arranged convertible bonds for two Taiwan firms this year, both on a sole basis.
Before joining Morgan Stanley in 2001, Kuo worked for Lehman Brothers where he started his investment banking career in 1990.
According to a Barclays spokesman, Ding will become the sole head of investment banking for Greater China as a result of Kuo’s departure.