Goldman Sachs announced internally yesterday that Matthew Westerman would join Dan Dees to become co-head of the investment banking division in Asia-Pacific ex-Japan.
Westerman, who is moving from London, will join Dees on the not-so-auspicious date of April 1. Despite the foolish start date, Westerman is described as a real “client-facing banker” and “an ECM heavy hitter”.
Dees is already out here and well respected in the region; he will assume his new role immediately. Most recently, Dees served as head of the financing group in Asia-Pacific and chairman of the financing group in Japan. Although Goldman Sachs never likes to tout any one banker over another, Dees is said to have been a key driver of Goldman Sachs’ work for AIA’s initial public offering in 2010. He joined the firm in 1992 and was named managing director in 2001 and partner in 2004, and is now a member of several top-level committees for the firm.
Westerman most recently was global head of equity capital markets. He also serves on a series of significant Goldman Sachs internal committees. Westerman joined the firm from Rothchild as a managing director in 2000 and was named partner in 2002.
The firm positions the change as a move that strengthens it in Asia, saying internally that: “This leadership change underscores our commitment to the region and our confidence in the growth opportunities ahead. Matthew and Dan will focus on continuing to build our investment banking franchise and growing our market share in the region. They will work to further drive the integration of our advisory and financing businesses to deliver integrated product solutions to our clients.”
The latest move comes on the heels of the departure of major money-makers such as Yusuf Alireza, former co-president for Asia leaving in November and then Mark Machin’s departure in December. Machin’s last role at Goldman was vice-chairman for Asia ex-Japan, but he had been regional co-head of investment banking until February 2011. The firm has a history of co-heads holding the top roles, with Machin having shared the helm with other bankers, including William Wicker, Richard Ong and Ravi Sinha, all of whom have subsequently left the firm, as well as David Ryan, who currently holds the title of president of Goldman’s operations in the region.
Last night, Goldman Sachs was the toast of FinanceAsia’s Achievement Awards, as we selected the Wall Street firm as our choice for Best Investment Bank in Asia. While Goldman stood out on deals, it is no secret that all firms — even Goldman Sachs — are struggling to match revenues of earlier dynamo years. An increasing number of bookrunners on transactions, as well as a sharp rise in competitive bidding that has driven down the price that banks in the region can command, has made it more difficult to run profitable investment banking franchises in Asia. And so while promoting Dees and importing Westerman is a sign that Goldman Sachs sees promise in Asia (or perhaps less promise elsewhere in the world) they will have their work cut out for them to hit future revenue targets.