M&A boss walks out of ING Barings

A quote from The Importance of Being Earnest springs to mind as ING Barings loses two senior people in as many weeks - losing one might be a misfortune, but losing two is just careless.

It was another bad day for ING Barings corporate finance team as Anthony Steains, the firm's head of Asian M&A, resigned. Steains is thought to be going to Deutsche Bank, although Deutsche Bank was unable to comment and Steains could not be reached.

It is another blow for ING Barings, which last week lost Chester Kwok to CSFB. Kwok had run the Hong Kong corporate finance division, and had been with ING for four years. Steains is an even bigger loss. The plucky Australian had blossomed in the Barings' culture for five years and rose to run the firm's M&A division.

What is less certain is how much both men's decisions have to do with ING's recent announcements about restructuring the investment bank. The Dutch-based bank has issued some very confusing statements about what it intends to do and for the investment bankers in Asia this has caused much uncertainty.

Headhunters are known to be circling the firm's six floor eyrie in the IFC building in an almost ravenous fashion.

Separately, the firm has tried to quell negative rumours by announcing today – with lightning speed – a replacement for Kwok. It is drafting back Adrian Yang from London. Yang was formerly head of equity capital markets for ING Barings in Hong Kong before moving to London. Yang's father is TL Yang, who chairs the powerful Hong Kong Exchange Fund.

Head of corporate finance Malcolm Brown is at pains to point out that the firm's culture has ensured remarkable stability over the years. "We have 10 senior corporate financiers who have been in our Asian business for five years," he says. "The staff turnover has been low. There's a lot of noise out there right now, but nothing has changed about our business. We have doubled our team in Hong Kong over the last year.

"We announced the First Pacific Bank deal last week, and on Friday we announced Chinatrust's purchase of additional shares in its Philippine subsidiary. This morning we signed three mandates for new deals across the different products. We have a good pipeline which is ahead of our forecasts, and people are going to get paid pretty well."

Brown, who has been in Asia for seven years, says that Steains' replacement will probably come from within the firm's ranks – rather than being headhunted from elsewhere.

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