James Roth, the former regional head of technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) at UBS, has resurfaced at Deutsche Bank following a six-month sabbatical after which he never returned to his former employer.
Roth is taking on a newly created role as head of Asia general industries, which is surprising, not just because of his limited experience in that area, but because the investment banking industry in Asia is generally moving in the direction of putting more individual focus on the various industries that make up general industries (commonly referred to as GIG). To introduce a new management level at the top -- all the GIG sector heads in the region will report to Roth -- goes against this trend.
It is not surprising to see Roth join Deutsche Bank, however. According to sources and former colleagues, he was very close to Robert Rankin, who was previously head of investment banking at UBS and is now Asia-Pacific CEO at the German bank. Shortly after Rankin moved from Australia to Hong Kong in 2000 to head up TMT at UBS, he brought Roth along to join his team.
Sources say it was partly the disappointment of not being chosen as one of the people to take over as head of investment banking after Rankin resigned from UBS in early March last year that prompted Roth to take a sabbatical later that month. And with his former role as head of TMT being filled by Saurabh Beniwal during his absence, there was no obvious job for him to return to.
But with the significant pick-up in investment banking business in the second half of last year -- the equity and debt capital markets were firing on all cylinders and M&A is expected to follow suit this year -- Roth was likely keen to get back into the industry and it appears his former boss has given him an opportunity to do so.
According to a spokesperson at Deutsche, Roth will be responsible for growing the bank's GIG business in Asia, focusing in regional and global client opportunities. At Deutsche, general industries comprises industrials, healthcare and the consumer/retail sectors.
Roth started his new job on Monday. He is based in Hong Kong and reports to Sanjay Agarwal and Doug Morton, the bank's co-heads of Asia corporate finance coverage, as well as to the global heads of industrials and consumer/retail. The latter reporting line shows that globally Deutsche is still putting focus on the individual industries within GIG, which makes Roth's appointment as Asia head of GIG even more curious. The key reason why some investment banks are decentralising the GIG remit is because the businesses that traditionally fall under this umbrella (namely, industrials, healthcare, consumer/retail, energy, metals & mining, transport and sometimes gaming) have now reached critical mass in the region. At the same time, staffing levels in Asia are now strong enough that most banks have the capacity to have bankers specialise in the individual industries.
Also, while there are overlaps, the synergies between these different industries aren't all that obvious. One can argue that if there is a head of general industries, that person ought to be strong in at least one of the underlying sub-sectors in order to be able to add value, or you may end up with an overseeing function focusing on trying to find common ground and synergies where there are none.
However, while Roth has no specific experience in GIG, the Deutsche spokesperson notes that he has a broad set of experiences across regional markets, diverse industries and investment banking products.
Roth had been with UBS for 11 years, initially in Australia and the UK and for the past 10 years in Hong Kong. He is said to be particularly strong within M&A and equities.
At UBS, investment banking is now headed by David Chin and Matthew Hanning, who were appointed joint heads for Asia shortly after Rankin's departure. Both are based in Hong Kong and have a background primarily within M&A banking.