Jefferies, the global securities and investment banking firm, has hired five senior bankers as it continues its expansion in Asia.
The hires include Sherry Liu, the former chairman and CEO for China at Royal Bank of Scotland, who left RBS in August after just 16 months. At the time of her departure a spokesperson at the bank said she left to pursue “outside interests” and would continue to act as an adviser to the bank’s international banking team. As it turns out, she is back in the industry after just three months.
At Jefferies, Liu will take on the dual jobs as chairman of Asia and vice-chairman of global investment banking, and, according to a press release, she will have a vital role in driving the firm’s investment banking business in Asia. Liu has more than 18 years of investment banking experience, particularly in China where she has long-standing relationships with numerous major companies and business leaders.
While she will now have an Asia-wide role, Liu’s hire does suggest that Jefferies is putting more focus on China.
Before joining RBS in April 2010 Liu spent seven years J.P. Morgan as vice-chairman for China and chairman of China financial institutions. Before that she was head of China investment banking at both Lehman Brothers and CLSA. Last year she was named by FinanceAsia as one of the top 20 women in finance in Asia and referred to as one of the rising stars in the region.
Liu is bringing two other people from her team at RBS with her to Jefferies: Qing Zhu, who will take on the role as head of Asia power and utilities investment banking; and Charles Zhou, who is joining as a senior China coverage officer within investment banking. They too had only been with RBS for a short time. Zhu joined in June 2011 and Zhou a couple of months later in August 2011.
In addition to these three, Jefferies has also hired Danny Wong from Macquarie as head of Asia equity capital markets. Wong had been with Macquarie for seven years and was promoted to head of ECM for Greater China in July last year.
The final new hire is Richard Yang, who is coming on board as joint head of Asia consumer and healthcare investment banking. He joins from ICBC International where he was head of consumer and retail investment banking.
Zhu, Zhou, Wong and Yang will all have the title of managing director and will be based in Hong Kong. Zhu and Zhou will report to Liu as well as to Ren Wang, who is president of Asia and head of Asia investment banking and capital markets. Wong and Yang will report to Wang and all four will also have a reporting line to their respective global product heads.
Liu will report to the firm’s global head of investment banking and capital markets, Benjamin Lorello.
The New York-based firm has been expanding pretty aggressively in the region over the past couple of years and following these latest hires, Jefferies now has more than 30 investment bankers in Asia, of which nine are MDs. According to an insider, the team is now at a good size for the amount of deal flow in the market. This puts it in an enviable position to other investment banks in the region that rebuilt their teams after the financial crisis for an expected pickup in business activity that never really materialised. Many of them are now being forced to shrink their teams to fit the actual level of business.
Jefferies has also benefitted as the bulge-bracket firms have been forced to cut jobs, by being able to pick up talent that fit its particular focus. Ren Wang was hired about a year ago from UBS where he was head of the financial institutions group (FIG) in Asia. Like Liu, Wang is also reporting directly to Lorello, the global head of investment banking.
Sources note that Jefferies is a very client-focused and entrepreneurial firm that is still highly focused on investment banking. This appeals to bankers who like to serve clients by doing deals. At bigger firms, there tend to be a lot of other competing interests and less flexibility for the individual banker.
And the bank has been pretty active on the deal front. According to a source at the bank, it has completed more than 30 investment banking transactions in Asia in the past two years, across ECM, DCM and M&A. Among other things it was a joint bookrunner for the $855 million IPO of Chinese social networking platform RenRen, acted as a joint book runner for a $300 million senior notes offering for China Fishery Group, and was a lead financial adviser to Reliance Industries on its $392 million acquisition of a 60% stake in acreages held by Carrizo Oil & Gas.
Qing Zhu has more than 14 years of investment banking experience covering power, utilities, natural resources and industrial companies. At RBS he was most recently head of China energy and resources investment banking. He has also worked three years with J.P. Morgan and before that spent five years with CLSA, where he was joint head of China investment banking.
Charles Zhou has 13 years of investment banking experience in China, covering both state-owned enterprises and private sector clients. At RBS he was a managing director for investment banking. He joined RBS after a combined 10 years at Nomura/Lehman Brothers, including a stint as chief representative of Lehman’s Beijing office.
Danny Wong has more than 15 years of investment banking experience across Greater China and Southeast Asia. During his seven years with Macquarie in Singapore and Hong Kong, he executed numerous deals for Chinese clients and helped the firm to become the top underwriter of Hong Kong IPOs in 2008. A native Singaporean, Wong joined Merrill Lynch’s corporate finance team in his home town after graduating from MIT in 1998. Before moving to Macquarie in 2005 he also worked at Credit Suisse First Boston and CLSA.
Richard Yang brings more than 13 years of experience to Jefferies, both on the buy-side and sell-side. Before his previous job at ICBC International, he spent three years as an investment partner at private equity firm IDG Capital where he focused on sourcing and executing investments primarily in the consumer, retail and healthcare sectors. He has also worked four years in investment banking at Credit Suisse and five years as a securities lawyer with Sherman & Sterling.