David Ryan will return to investment banking at Goldman Sachs, taking on the position as co-head of investment banking for Asia ex-Japan together with current co-head Mark Machin, according to an internal announcement distributed to staff yesterday.
He will replace Ravi Sinha who will retire from the bank in June after just two years in the region. Sinha, who has been a partner for 10 years, will become an advisory director to the bank, which will allow him to stay involved in certain projects, although he will no longer be on the payroll, according to a source.
Ryan was head of the Asia ex-Japan financing group at Goldman in Hong Kong until the end of 2007 when he relocated to Singapore to become chairman for Southeast Asia. In that role he has worked together with Tim Leissner, the firm's head of investment banking for Southeast Asia, to expand Goldman's presence and improve its transaction record in this region, while also overseeing the asset management, private banking, wealth management and commodities businesses. According to an announcement at the time of his relocation, the chairman is responsible for determining and implementing strategy and for ensuring that there is effective cross-divisional coordination across all the firm's activities in the Southeast Asian markets.
And the additional focus is noticeable. The firm has obtained licences to operate asset management and corporate finance businesses in Malaysia, has opened a representative office in Indonesia and a couple of weeks ago got a seat on the Singapore stock exchange, meaning it can now trade directly on behalf of its clients, or on its own account, without having to go through local brokers.
Ryan will retain the role as chairman of Southeast Asia alongside his new investment banking job and will continue to be based in Singapore.
This is interesting since it means that, for the first time ever, Goldman's regional head of investment banking will not be based in Hong Kong. Machin, who was previously in Hong Kong, relocated to Beijing last year as the bank wanted to put a senior banker on the ground in what it views as a key growth region. The fact that Ryan will remain in Singapore is further evidence that Goldman sees long-term potential in Southeast Asia and is serious about increasing its footprint in this region.
While based in different regions, Machin and Ryan will not split up the region in terms of coverage, but will have shared responsibility for the entire Asia ex-Japan investment banking business.
While Sinha was reasonably new to the region, he is a veteran Goldman banker, having joined the firm in New York in 1989 as an associate in the mergers and acquisitions team. He founded and became co-head of the Americas industrials group in 2002 and then a co-head of the global natural resources group in 2007 before transferring to Hong Kong in July 2008.
His decision to retire is part of the normal pattern of hirings and retirings that goes on at the bank every year, the source said. Sinha intends to stay in Hong Kong for now, but has no immediate plans for what to do next, sources say. In March, Goldman announced that its chairman for Greater China, Fred Hu, who was responsible for investment banking and strategy in China, would retire in April after 13 years with the firm. Hu too will become an advisory director, although sources say he is also planning to launch a private equity fund.
However, there have been some murmurs in the market that Goldman's decision to bring in people for senior positions from the US as the credit crisis was unfolding and layoffs across the investment banking industry were rising in all regions, didn't go down well with all staff. And that the different perspective by such "outsiders" may have played a role as some bankers have left the firm in the past year. That said, Goldman has a history of bringing people from the US to Asia and many of the partners and senior management that are now considered old-timers and are respected for their Asia knowledge, had little experience in the region when they first joined the Hong Kong office.
Ryan came to the region in 2005 to become head of the financing group for Asia ex-Japan, having joined Goldman in the US in 1992 in the investment banking division. He was named a managing director in 2001 and a partner in 2004. Machin moved to Asia in the early 1990s.