One of the most experienced debt syndicate heads in the region, Deutsche Bank's Mark Leahy, has resigned from the bank and will take a break from the industry. After five years running the Asian syndicate desk at Deutsche and another three in the same role at UBS, Leahy says he wants to spend more time with his family and on other non-work-related interests.
Herman van den Wall Bake, who is in charge of G3 debt, and Jan Wipplinger, who specialises in medium-term note programmes and local currency issues, will jointly take on the additional responsibility of heading up the syndicate desk.
Singapore-based Leahy says the timing of his resignation, which he handed in on Friday, was driven by family issues, including the birth of his third child in December. At the same time, issuance activity is expected to stay on the thin side this year while the industry claws its way out of the credit crunch that left primary debt issuance in 2008 at an eight-year low.
However, Asia's primary debt markets are showing signs of recovery and Deutsche Bank has had a busy start to the new year, having helped arrange all of the top three issues in the region year-to-date for the Republic of the Philippines, Export-Import Bank of Korea and Korea Development Bank.
"Eight years in syndicate is a long time and it is time to take a break and do something different," Leahy says. "I didn't want to feel that I stepped off at a time when the business was going through a rough time, but we have started the year on a very strong note and with Herman and Jan at the helm the [Deutsche Bank] ship is resting in stable conditions," Leahy says.
Never afraid to speak his mind and described as one of the biggest personalities in an industry where joint mandates are almost a rule these days, Leahy is likely to be missed not only by his colleagues and clients at Deutsche, but by debt bankers at rival firms as well. And even though most banks are in headcount reduction mode at the moment he should have no trouble getting a job when, or if, he feels like returning to the industry -- although he stresses that his time off from banking is open-ended for now, with his most immediate plan being to buy a boat and resume a life-long interest in sailing that has been on hold for some time.
Before he joined UBS in 2000, Leahy spent 10 years with HSBC as a member of the bank's international management programme and between 1995 and 2000 he was responsible for its Asian credit trading business.
Meanwhile, van den Wall Bake has more than 15 years experience in the finance industry, spanning commercial banking, credit trading, private equity and debt syndicate. He joined Deutsche Bank in September 2007 from ABN AMRO where he had spent four years managing the Asian syndicate desk and two years running the Latin American debt syndicate desk out of New York. In the late 1990s he was based in London, where he headed up emerging markets eurobond trading at BNP Paribas.
Wipplinger has been with Deutsche Bank for more than 10 years and is one of the rare Germans working at the bank in Asia.