End of a Sarcastic Era

With Citigroup''s Rupert Mitchell, departing for London the Asian ECM markets will be a little duller.

Known for his biting one liners and a recent interest in purchasing expensive dining tables carved from single blocks of wood, Rupert Mitchell has established himself among the ranks of the Asian equity capital market's more colourful characters. Indeed when Paul Kelly departed from ING, he took over the unrivaled mantle of being the most witty and sarcastic man in the ECM business.

He leaves for London, where he will move into one of Citigroup's fastest growing businesses in Europe, that being corporate equity derivatives. This business has thrived thanks to M&A in particular.

Mitchell leaves Asia after four and a half years, and says the speed of the move has come as a surprise, and was prompted by the exciting job opportunity in London. The somewhat unplanned nature of the move is reflected in the fact that he and his wife only just had a daughter (Flora Skye) less than 29 days ago, and Flora will be earning her first Asiamiles on Tuesday when the family departs for Heathrow.

"It is very sad to be leaving just as Asia looks to be getting exciting again," says Mitchell, whose responsibilities were for Korean and Hong Kong ECM and convertible issuance. He says that ironically enough his decision to accept the job in London in late May coincided almost to the day with the Asian equity capital markets transformation from a coffin-like state to a level of vibrance that has seen many give up on the idea of sleep altogether.

His final deal is the Hopewell Highway Infrastructure deal, which closed yesterday (Thursday) comfortably oversubscribed. However, his true swan song was the PCCW $400 million block trade, executed in June, and which Citi hard underwrote and made around $19 million in fees.

He leaves an ECM team in Asia which is still ten strong, including Tokyo-based head David Hatt. In Hong Kong, the group is run by the widely respected Kirsty MacTaggart and fellow MD Willy Liu.

He joined Citigroup in 2000 from ING and has been a key part of the team that Scott Ferguson built before his formal departure earlier this year. He says the two things he won't miss about Asia are the 12:05 (midnight) flight to Incheon, and Korean pricing meetings.

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