JPM hires China chief

JP Morgan hires David Li as China chief

The appointment is the latest move taken by the US bank to reinforce its China business amid regulators' hiring probes.

JP Morgan has appointed David Li as senior country officer for China, in an attempt to leverage his experience to drive the bank’s businesses in the country.

Li joins from UBS, where he worked for nine years; the latest role as chairman and country head of China.

He will chair the bank’s local management committee and report to Nicolas Aguzin, JP Morgan’s chairman and CEO for Asia-Pacific. He will remain in Beijing upon joining in October.

“In the next 10 to 15 years, people are expecting China to experience some fundamental transformation,” Aguzin told FinanceAsia in an email. “David is going to oversee all of our activities in China and ensure that we participate in this great opportunity going forward.”

Li will fill the hole left by Shao Zili, who took up a more regional role at the bank in April as vice-chairman for Asia-Pacific, according to a source familiar with the situation.

He has also worked as chairman of UBS Securities, a Beijing-based joint venture between UBS and other companies such as IFC and the State Development Investment Corp.

Li also played a key role in establishing the securities JV’s China franchise and making it the first fully licensed JV brokerage in the country.

Prior to UBS, Li worked at China Merchants Holdings (International) and earlier China Merchants Securities.  He also worked on Wall Street as an investment banker for seven years, following his graduation from Wharton’s MBA program.

China management restructuring

In addition to Li, JP Morgan named Greg Guyett as co-head of Asia-Pacific banking, along with Tom DuCharme according to another internal email seen by FinanceAsia. Therese Esperdy, the incumbent in the role, will return to the U.S. to become global chairman of the financial institutions group.

Guyett will continue to serve in his current role as the CEO of Greater China until Li joins the firm in October to ensure a smooth transition of the bank’s China franchise, said the email.

JP Morgan, the second largest US bank by assets, has reshuffled its China management during the past few months after its senior investment banker Fang Fang retired with the firm in March.

The bank appointed Frank Gong chairman of investment banking in China, as well as Brian Gu and Zhao Jing co-heads of investment banking in China, reported by FinanceAsia.

JP Morgan’s reorganisation is taking place amid US Securities and Exchange Commission and Justice Department probe on whether the bank hired Chinese staff so their powerful family members could steer business to the firm.

If proven, this could have been in violation of bribery laws. A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment aside from saying that JP Morgan was cooperating with regulators.

The probe is part of a wider investigation, which is looking at the hiring practices of several other investment banks in the country.

China strategy renewal

JP Morgan has drawn up a China strategy and a five-year plan, which was presented recently to an operating committee chaired by Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO, according to the second internal email.

The plan calls for significant investments and the committee has endorsed all the proposals. The strategy for China will extend well beyond a five-year period as JP Morgan continues to meet the growing needs of clients over decades to come, said Aguzin.

“China is the country that has the potential to be one of the largest global markets for JP Morgan,” Aguzin told FinanceAsia in the email. “We will continue to build our talent base [there]. We want to make sure that we're a relevant force [in the country].”

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