Citi's metals and mining head calls it quits

Alexander Molyneux leaves the US bank to pursue a career with Canadian coal exploration and development firm SouthGobi Energy Resources.

Alexander Molyneux, who headed Citi's metals and mining business in the region, is to join Vancouver-based SouthGobi Energy Resources as president. The appointment is effective from April 27, 2009, and Molyneux will continue to be based in Hong Kong. He will be responsible for business and corporate development initiatives.

Molyneux is a career banker with more than a decade's experience in the industry. He was a managing director at Citi with responsibility for metals and mining investment banking for the Asia-Pacific region, reporting to Mark Renton, Citi's head of investment banking. Molyneux joined Citi in 2007 from UBS, where he was an executive director in investment banking. Before UBS, Molyneux spent five years with Deutsche Bank.

"[Molyneux's] extensive international experience in the mining industry, especially in Asia, makes him a true asset to the company as we move forward to expand our coal-mining projects in Mongolia and Indonesia," says Peter Meredith, SouthGobi CEO.

Molyneux has been granted options to acquire 625,000 common SouthGobi shares at a price of C$7.94 ($6.35) per share for a period of seven years. The options were granted in accordance with the company's equity incentive plan for employees and directors, SouthGobi noted in a written statement. SouthGobi traded at C$9 on Tuesday so Molyneux's options are already in the money.

SouthGobi is focused on exploration and development of its Permian-age metallurgical and thermal coal deposits in Mongolia's South Gobi Region and its Eocene-age metallurgical and thermal coal deposits in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The company's flagship coal mine, Ovoot Tolgoi in Mongolia, commenced production in April 2008 and is selling coal to customers in China. The company has plans to supply a wide range of coal products and electricity to markets in Asia.

This is the time of year when banks experience some post-bonus churn. This year, however, the situation is somewhat different. The downturn in investment banking and a difficult operating environment for alternative asset management firms, which used to provide a career switch opportunity for senior bankers, is causing a number of bankers to explore career opportunities in industry.

Some specialists see the current downsizing as a permanent one and predict that investment banking will never return to the staffing and activity levels witnessed earlier this decade. And for various reasons, the days of investment banking salaries (and bonuses) being difficult to top are also gone, though this may be less permanent.

"The recession is obviously not a good thing but the downturn in financial services has yielded some fringe benefits," a guest who heads a business in the region commented to this reporter at the FinanceAsia annual awards dinner last week. "Our company is attracting some of the best and brightest minds in the industry, who would otherwise not have been available to us."

Molyneux could not be reached for comment. A Citi spokesperson said an announcement of Molyneux's replacement will be made shortly.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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