BoA Merrill hires

Cox and Fleming named co-heads of Asia ECM at BoA Merrill

Former UBS syndicate head James Fleming will join BoA Merrill in mid-June and will lead the ECM business in Asia alongside current head Jason Cox. The bank has also hired Dickson Cheung from Citi as head of corporate equity solutions in the region.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has appointed James Fleming as co-head of Asia equity capital markets, working alongside current head Jason Cox. Fleming resigned from UBS more than a month ago, but BoA Merrill had not announced his exact role until now.

Fleming has spent the past 11 years at UBS, most recently as head of equity syndicate for the Americas. He was based in Asia between April 2006 and late 2009, before transferring to New York.

His move to BoA Merrill follows that of his former boss, Matthew Koder, who left UBS in March to join the US bank as head of its corporate and investment banking business in Asia. Koder, who was most recently global head of global capital markets (GCM) at UBS in London, will not formally take up his new role until late June or early July, but is seemingly already putting his mark on the business.

Fleming’s arrival will reinstate the co-head structure that BoA Merrill had before Soofian Zuberi was promoted to head of global markets sales for the region in February 2009. Cox and Zuberi were named co-heads of ECM for Asia-Pacific ex-Japan two years earlier, in February 2007.

As the ECM business in Asia continues to grow, it makes sense to share the workload between two people and several other banks, including Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, have a similar co-head structure for their ECM divisions. BoA Merrill has been adding resources to its ECM department for the past 18 months but, according to sources, it is still looking to hire more senior originators. The bank is also keen to become more active in areas such as block trades where it can make use of the greater balance sheet it got following the combination with Bank of America in early 2009.

Fleming has extensive experience both in origination of equity deals and the execution of blocks, while his previous role as head of ECM for Southeast Asia at UBS will be a good complement to Cox’s long-term focus on relationships in North Asia.

Jason Cox

Cox joined Merrill Lynch from Goldman Sachs in 2005 and, until taking on the head of ECM job on a sole basis in early 2009, he was primarily responsible for the bank’s business in Korea, Taiwan and China. He has been in Asia since 1995 and has held a number of roles in both equity and debt capital markets.

The BoA Merrill announcement of Fleming’s appointment was signed by Dan Cummings, head of global equity and equity-linked capital markets, as well as the firm’s two co-heads of corporate and investment banking for Asia-Pacific, Jayanti Bajpai and Jiro Seguchi. They were quoted as saying that Fleming has “long-standing relationships with leaders of major global corporations and institutions, private equity firms and governments, and has worked on some of the world’s largest equity transactions over the past decade”.

Before he moved to the US, Fleming was head of Asia equity syndicate at UBS in Hong Kong from March 2008 to late 2009, initially together with Sam Kendall, but for the last six months on his own after Kendall transferred to London. Before that, he was head of Southeast Asia ECM, based in Singapore, for almost two years. He joined UBS in London in 1999 as part of the European and Asian ECM team.

He is expected to start at BoA Merrill in mid-June and, like Cox, he will report to Cummings, Bajpai and Seguchi.

The confirmation of Fleming’s role at the bank comes a day after BoA Merrill announced that it has also poached Mary Ann Deignan from UBS to become its new head of ECM for the Americas, with overall responsibility for equity and equity-linked capital markets, as well as syndicate and corporate equity derivatives.

Deignan worked for 11 years at Merrill Lynch, in ECM, syndicate and institutional sales, before joining UBS in 2004. She has been head of ECM for the Americas at the Swiss bank since 2007 and Fleming reported to her.

Among the bank’s other ECM hires in Asia in the past 18 months are Edmund Sim, who joined in mid-2010 from Goldman Sachs as a director focusing on China, and Kihui Teh, who was hired from BNP Paribas in January this year as a Singapore-based director overseeing Southeast Asia.

And, according to a source, the bank has also just hired Dickson Cheung from Citi as head of Asia corporate equity solutions, which means he will be responsible for structuring derivatives solutions for the bank’s corporate clients. He will be based in Hong Kong and will report to Cox and Neelkanth Parekh, who is head of Asia-Pacific global markets structuring and client solutions.

At Citi, Cheung was most recently co-head of corporate equity derivatives. Previously, he has also been head of structured product sales and before joining Citi he was head of equity derivatives marketing and sales for Asia ex-Japan at Calyon.

BoA Merrill ranks fifth in the overall ECM league table for Asia ex-Japan so far this year, according to Dealogic, and third after Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank if you exclude equity-linked transactions. This is a significant improvement from 2010 when it didn’t make it into the top 10 in either of these league tables. Contributing to its move up the ladder has been its involvement in deals like Glencore International’s $10 billion IPO, Power Finance Corp’s $1 billion follow-on, a $1.3 billion placement and rights issue for Bank Mandiri and Petronas’s sale of its $2.1 billion stake in Cairn India, which it led on a sole basis.

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