Macquarie hires M&A specialist Kalpana Desai

The former Merrill Lynch banker will become deputy head of Asia for Macquarie Capital Advisers.

Macquarie Group has hired Kalpana Desai as deputy head of Asia for Macquarie Capital Advisers, the firm's corporate advisory and equity underwriting business, it said in a release yesterday.

Desai has more than 20 years of investment banking experience, according to the Macquarie announcement, and was most recently a senior managing director and head of Asia-Pacific mergers and acquisitions at Merrill Lynch. She left Merrill, part of the enlarged Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in May this year after 11 years with the firm.

At Macquarie, she will be based in Hong Kong and report to Andrew Low, who is head of Asia for Macquarie Capital, an entity which incorporates Macquarie Capital Advisers as well as the specialised funds management business Macquarie Capital Funds.

Desai joined the M&A group at Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong in 1998, was made head of Asia M&A in 2002 and head of Asia-Pacific (ex-Japan) M&A in 2008. She has also worked as an investment banker in London.

Among the high-profile deals she worked on during her time at Merrill are PCCW's acquisition of Hong Kong Telecom from Cable & Wireless in 2000, where she advised the sell-side; and United Overseas Bank's takeover of Overseas Union Bank in 2001, where she advised UOB. She was also involved in a number of China cross-border deals, including the establishment of a cross-ownership and operational partnership between Cathay Pacific Airways and Air China; and represented the target when Lenovo bought IBM's personal computer division in 2004.

Macquarie last month signed an agreement to set up a securities joint venture with Hengtai Securities in China, which, if approved by regulators, will enable it to underwrite domestic Chinese debt and equity issues. This on-the-ground presence in mainland China will complement the firm's existing business as an underwriter of Chinese initial public offerings offshore. In 2008, Macquarie ranked as the top underwriter of IPOs in Hong Kong after lead-managing three of the five largest offerings by Chinese companies.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.