Citigroup hires new China banker

The firm snags Jing Zhao in a game of musical chairs with Morgan Stanley.
In what has become a game of Mainland musical chairs between two of the worldÆs largest banks, Citigroup has announced that Morgan StanleyÆs former co-head of China investment banking, Jing Zhao has joined the firm. The appointment by Citigroup comes one day after Zhao left Morgan Stanley and less than two months after the bank hired Wei Christianson, from Citi, as its new managing director and China CEO.

The hiring of Zhao as managing director in its China investment banking division comes as a big coup for Citigroup, as it attempts to rebuild its China team after losing Christianson, its former chairman of China for its global markets team. Meanwhile Francis Leung, its former Asia Chairman and renowned China investment banker, now works part time as a senior advisor.

Upon her arrival at Citigroup, Zhao will report directly to Mark Renton, head of Asian investment banking and acting head of China investment banking - and will carry out her role from the US firmÆs Beijing offices.

ôJing is a great addition to our China investment banking team,ö says Renton. ôShe has excellent client relationships around the region and has been involved on several landmark and groundbreaking transactions from China in recent years.ö

During her 12-year employment with Morgan Stanley, Zhao rose to the position of co-head of China investment banking, a role she took on with CG Wu after the departure of Jonathan Zhu - who left the investment bank in January to join buyout firm Bain Capital. She was also its chief representative in Beijing, a position she occupied since 2002.

Upon joining Citi, the firm will seek to draw on ZhaoÆs extensive experience on high-profile deals to quickly try and rebuild its China investment banking team. At Morgan Stanley, Zhao was heavily involved with the $1.85 billion IPO of Ping An Insurance in June 2005 and more recently, 2005Æs $9.2 billion listing of China Construction Bank (CCB).

Evidently, CitiÆs hiring of Zhao comes as a huge boon for its China investment banking operations, which hopes to build on the success of last yearÆs $4.18 billion acquisition of PetroKazakhstan by China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which it advised on.