Kester Ng, J.P. Morgan’s chairman of equity capital markets (ECM) for Asia-Pacific, is leaving the firm after seven years to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities outside the investment banking industry, according to an internal announcement.
A person familiar with the move said Ng will be putting more time into a life-style-focused real estate business of which he has been a silent partner for some time. He now aims to become more actively involved.
The ECM industry in Asia has seen significant structural changes in the past 12-18 months, including shrinking fees and the use of more bookrunners on every deal, which is making it more and more difficult for banks to make money on public market deals. Against that backdrop it is no surprise to see some veteran bankers looking around for other opportunities.
Whether that is what ultimately drove Ng to make the leap is unclear, but it is hard to believe that it didn’t play a role – just like the lack of bonuses during the global financial crisis gave a number of bankers an incentive to try something new back then.
A Hong Kong native, Ng has spent almost 20 years as an investment banker, having started his career in September 1993. He joined J.P. Morgan in 2006 after short stints at Goldman Sachs and UBS and 11 years at Merrill Lynch, where among other things he was head of equity syndicate for Asia. By the time he was poached by J.P. Morgan he was a managing director in ECM with a specific focus on Hong Kong and China deals.
He joined J.P. Morgan as co-head of ECM for Asia ex-Japan alongside Jonathan Back and took over sole responsibility for the team in March 2007. In May 2010 he was promoted to co-head of ECM – or equity capital and derivatives markets (ECDM) as the firm had started calling the division by then – for the entire Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and Australia, together with Doug Howland.
In January last year, the firm brought out Jeff Zajkowski from the US to take over as regional head of ECM. Ng was given a new role as chairman of ECM for Asia-Pacific, while Howland returned to his previous position as head of ECM for Japan.
Ng let the bank know a couple of months ago that he was planning to leave, but the move wasn’t announced internally until Wednesday evening. People at the bank said yesterday that his role is unlikely to be refilled in the near-term.