Douglas joins Standard Chartered in global ECM role

The former Lehman banker gives up his job as CFO of a French agricultural company to return to investment banking and is joined by four more corporate finance hires.

Less than a year after he left investment banking to become chief financial officer of a French agricultural company, former Lehman Brothers banker David Douglas has been lured back to the industry with a top job at Standard Chartered. The UK-headquartered bank confirmed in a release yesterday that it has hired Douglas as global head of equity capital markets, based in Hong Kong.

The hire is part of Standard Chartered's push into the equities side of the business, which gained pace with the acquisition of Cazenove Asia in January. Since then, the emerging markets focused bank has been making the most of the fact that it has been much less unaffected by the financial crisis than its larger US and European peers by hiring aggressively across its business lines.

Standard Chartered still has a very strong balance sheet that it can use to back up the business it does for its clients -- and to pay its employees -- and consequently the bank has become a desired place to work for bankers who have been let go from other firms or have decided to jump ship for what they perceive as a more stable opportunity.

In addition to Douglas's appointment, the bank yesterday also announced four new hires for its corporate finance team in Hong Kong and Singapore. All four are highly qualified bankers who had already left their previous employers.

"Standard Chartered's strong market position and balance sheet mean that we can continue to invest in growing our capabilities," Sean Wallace, the bank's group head of corporate finance, said in a written statement. "We have an ongoing focus on attracting and developing the people and capabilities our clients need to support them in capitalising on the tremendous opportunities that exist in our markets."

Douglas, who takes up his new position in June,  will be responsible for leading and growing the ECM business, but will report to May Tan, who is CEO of Cazenove Asia. Initially, being global head of ECM will really mean running the bank's ECM business in Asia, since this is the only place where Standard Chartered is active within equities at the moment, having had no significant ECM business before the Cazenove acquisition. However, Wallace told FinanceAsia yesterday that the ambition is to, over time, broaden the equity capabilities to match the overall geographic footprint of the bank, which aside from Asia, primarily includes Africa and the Middle East.

Douglas's new firm is likely to be different to Lehman Brothers in the sense that it is a lot more client-focused, as opposed to the product-driven approach at the former US investment bank, which has since been broken up and sold to Nomura and Barclays. However, several of Douglas's former Lehman colleagues are already at Standard Chartered, which should make for a smooth transition. These include Charles Alexander, who is regional head of origination and client coverage for Northeast Asia, and Christian Wait, who heads up capital markets.

Douglas resigned from Lehman at the end of August last year -- only a couple of weeks before the firm was forced to file for bankruptcy -- to become CFO of Agrogeneration, a small French company that is involved in the redevelopment of agricultural land in Central and Eastern Europe. However, sources close to Douglas say the attraction of the global role offered by Standard Chartered and the bank's strong position in the market was "too good" for him to turn down.  

He has more than 25 years of investment banking experience and joined Lehman in April 2002, working both in London and France before he transferred to Hong Kong in 2005 to head up the firm's ECM team in Asia ex-Japan. In January 2008 he took on a new cross-divisional role where he was to provide leadership to both the investment banking and equity divisions. He has also worked as an ECM banker at Credit Suisse First Boston and BZW.

Three of the other four hires will be based in Hong Kong and will report to James Pak, who joined from Merrill Lynch almost a year ago and heads up the Greater China corporate finance execution team. Neither of them will have a specific sector or geographic focus. Instead, the idea, according to Wallace, is to have "a pool of senior professionals who do M&A, equities and leveraged finance and execute on all these types of transactions."

Richard Kao, formerly with Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, has been appointed a director. With more than a decade of corporate finance experience, including IPOs, M&A and leveraged finance, predominantly in Greater China, he will take on the role of a senior execution banker.

Xiaodan Li, has joined over the past couple of months, also as a director. She was most recently with Goldman Sachs, where she worked as a telecom, media and technology banker both in New York and China. Her credentials include a long list of IPOs and M&As, but she has also worked on leveraged finance transactions.

Eric Chen has been appointed associate director. He was most recently with Morgan Stanley's M&A group in Hong Kong.

The fourth hire is Sandip Talukdar, a director, who will be based in Singapore and work primarily on equities execution, giving him a similar role to that of Kao in Hong Kong. He will report to Andrew Suckling, who runs the corporate finance and advisory business (essentially M&A and equities) in Southeast Asia. Talukdar was most recently with Credit Suisse.

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