Colin Banfield leaves Nomura for Citi

Colin Banfield, Nomura's joint head of investment banking, moves to Citi to head M&A for Asia-Pacific, marking the latest in a string of senior departures from the Japanese bank in Asia.
Colin Banfield
Colin Banfield

Colin Banfield has become the latest senior-level resignation from Nomura in Asia. He is leaving to head mergers and acquisitions for Asia-Pacific at Citi, where he becomes the third head of M&A in three years.

The departure follows Banfield's recent promotion to joint head of investment banking for Asia ex-Japan at Nomura, a position left vacant by the transfer of Glenn Schiffman to Wall Street to head investment banking for the Americas. Banfield's exit leaves joint head Patrick Schmitz-Morkramer, who moved from Europe this year for his first stint in Asia, in sole charge of investment banking for Asia ex-Japan. Banfield had not yet relinquished the head of M&A portfolio so Nomura is also now without a head of M&A.

Banfield has chosen to go back to a pure M&A role, which could be perceived as a lack of optimism about the future of investment banking at Nomura. But other sources say that Citi is offering two-year sign-ons, which may have made the decision easier. Banfield has managed to negotiate an Asia-Pacific role at Citi, which means Japan will be part of his remit. He also has a global co-head role with responsibility for all cross-border M&A globally, said sources close to the development, although presumably his involvement will be highest where deals have an Asia angle.

The move makes Banfield the latest Nomura banker to pocket his two-year package and jump ship. Sources said his last day at Nomura was yesterday and efforts were made to hold him back after he expressed his intention to leave last week.

His departure follows that of Siggi Thorkelsen, head of equities in Asia, Thomas Siegmund, co-head of fixed income in the region, Geoffrey Feldkamp, head of Asia ECM, and Jane Wang, vice-chairman of China investment banking.

Nomura last week appointed Jasjit "Jesse" Bhattal as president and chief operating officer of its global wholesale business. Bhattal was earlier head of Lehman Brothers' Asian operations and is widely credited with negotiating the two-year packages for the Lehman team that stayed on after the takeover by Nomura. Bhattal had initially announced an intention to leave Nomura at the end of last year. Some bankers expect Bhattal's first priority in his new job will be to stem the exodus, although he has his work cut out for him with major gaps to be plugged.

Further, keeping people on in the current environment is challenging. Investment banks such as UBS and Citi are rumoured to be offering large sign-on incentives as they seek to rebuild franchises which saw a number of job losses in the aftermath of the subprime-sparked financial crisis. Siegmund is reported to be moving to UBS where he will co-head fixed income with Shahryar Mahbub, who recently left Citi. Both Siegmund and Mahbub are rumoured to have moved on very attractive terms.

Another bank that is aggressively recruiting, again with large sign-ons, sources say, is Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Nomura has suffered a recent loss to BoA Merrill as well as its global co-head of technology, media and telecommunications investment banking, co-head of Asia corporate finance and head of Asia TMT, Robert Chiu, has rejoined the US bank as a managing director in the China country coverage team. Chiu joined Nomura in January last year so had been with the bank for just a year before he decided to go back to his former employer.

Banfield has worked in Asia since late 1995. He joined Nomura from Credit Suisse in 2007.

At Citi, Banfield becomes the third person to head M&A in the past three years. The earlier head of M&A, Steven Wallace, was in the role for less than 18 months. Citi poached Wallace from HSBC to replace Gordon Paterson, who left Citi for Deutsche Bank in April 2007. Wallace asked to be relocated to London for personal reasons in the middle of last year, said sources, and left the region in September.

Sources suggest that Citi approached some internal candidates to take on the role but all were disinclined. The head of M&A works alongside relevant industry group heads on deals and cannot be assured of a revenue share on every M&A deal, rather he has to earn his involvement. In a firm like Citi where industry groups are strongly entrenched this can be challenging.

Wallace created history of sorts in Hong Kong because HSBC pressed charges against him in a highly publicised battle to enforce the non-compete terms of his contract. The case went in front of a judge after Wallace argued that he was entitled to take advantage of a Hong Kong law that allows employees to effectively "buy out" their non-compete clauses.

Wallace's contract with HSBC required him to serve six months of gardening leave. But Wallace sought to buy out three months of his gardening leave and joined Citi in October. However, HSBC took the matter to court and the High Court in Hong Kong upheld HSBC's plea. Wallace was forced back on gardening leave and finally joined Citi in March 2008, one year after the position fell vacant.

There was no clarity on whether Banfield has to serve a three- or six-month gardening leave, as per terms of his current contract with Nomura.

Citi and Nomura had no comment on this story. Banfield could not be reached. 

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.

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