Joseph Chee departs UBS

The Swiss bank's investment banking chief in Asia becomes the latest big name to depart.

Veteran banker Joseph Chee has resigned as UBS’s head of Asia Pacific investment banking, a person at the Swiss bank confirmed to FinanceAsia on Friday. Another UBS ECM banker said he was told of the departure yesterday.

Chee’s official title was head of corporate client solutions (CCS) for Asia. CCS is the Swiss lender’s de-facto investment banking unit, encompassing capital markets and advisory. Promoted to co-head of CCS with Saurabh Beniwal in November 2015, Chee became sole head in 2016 after Beniwal departed.

Chee is moving to buy-side, becoming the latest big name to leave banking. He also follows several other senior investment bankers out of UBS.

As FinanceAsia reported in December, former Bank of America vice-chairman of investment banking John Lee will join UBS in the first quarter of 2017 in a similar role to the one he left. Rumours are now swirling among UBS investment bankers that Lee will take Chee's role.

An inside source told FinanceAsia Chee’s replacement would be named “in due course”, but declined to comment on the timeline or the candidate.

Chee has been one of the Swiss bank's top dealmakers, with a focus on China. His landmark deals include Hong Kong IPOs for Bank of China and China Merchants Bank in 2006, Petrochina’s A-share IPO in 2007, the 2007 A-share and 2009 H-share listings of China Pacific Insurance, China Cinda Asset Management's $2.46 billion IPO in 2013, and Postal Savings Bank of China’s $7.43 billion Hong Kong listing last year.

He was temporarily suspended by the bank in 2014, as it investigated the hiring of Joyce Wei, the daughter of the chairman of Tianhe Chemicals, according to sources. The move came as banks were competing for a slot of Tianhe's HK$5 billion ($650 million) IPO, a deal which UBS helped manage. But the probe clearly did not damage his stock at UBS — he was promoted the following year.

Chee’s exit is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from UBS, following Asia ECM co-head Damien Brosnan’s resignation in December and the departure of Asia bond duo Paul Au and Patrick Liu in November.

At a more junior level, 20 members of its China and corporate finance group units were redeployed to other duties in early November.

The bank is under investigation by Hong Kong’s securities watchdog over its role as sponsor of an undisclosed IPO. There has been no suggestion of a link between the Swiss firm’s staff changes and the probe.

UBS declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Alison Tudor-Ackroyd and Matthew Thomas.

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