Mark Machin to leave Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs's vice-chairman for Asia, Mark Machin, is leaving at the end of the year.
Mark Machin: leaving for the buy-side
Mark Machin: leaving for the buy-side

Mark Machin is leaving Goldman Sachs after 20 years with the firm to join a major buy-side organisation, according to a source and an internal memo seen by FinanceAsia.

“He’d done what he’d set out to do,” said a source.

Machin, 45, certainly climbed the ranks at the US firm. His most recent title was vice-chairman for the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan, but he was also a member of Goldman’s investment banking division’s global operating committee and the Asia-Pacific management committee. And he also served as a board member of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities.

Machin trained as a doctor at Oxford University, but has said he was curious about how finance worked — so he joined Goldman Sachs in 1991 to find out. And stuck with it.

He started in the corporate finance group in London and transferred to the equity capital markets group in 1993. Following his move to Asia in 1994, he served as head of equity capital markets from 2001, of the financing group from 2003 and of the investment banking division from 2005. Along the way, he became a managing director in 2000 and partner in 2002.

Since he became regional co-head of investment banking, a role he held up until February this year, he has at various times shared the helm with other bankers, including William Wicker, Richard Ong and Ravi Sinha, all of whom have subsequently left the firm, as well as David Ryan, who currently holds the title of president of Goldman’s operations in the region.

Some onlookers started questioning if Machin would leave the firm back in June 2008 when Goldman announced it was moving Sinha to Hong Kong. Sinha, who was then co-head of the bank’s global natural resources group, became co-head of the investment banking division in Asia together with Machin. While Sinha was just the third of four co-heads Machin would ultimately work with, in March 2009, Machin relocated to Beijing with the mandate to help build the bank’s business in China, leaving Sinha in Hong Kong, which outsiders viewed as a political coup for Sinha as it appeared as if Machin stepped off to the sidelines, even if they were mighty big sidelines.

Machin, not surprisingly, defended the move, noting that Goldman had always had one of the co-heads working in China — first Wicker, then Ong, and ultimately Machin. And he pointed out that China was where it was at, and Goldman had to get its focus right on the mainland, which few would deny it hadn’t managed to do with the expertise Goldman was otherwise known for in the region. But that didn’t silence the gossip.

In due course, even the loudest cynics ate crow — because Machin not only stuck it out in China but appeared to help get its business on track. Indeed, during our annual pitch meetings to hear which bank in the region was best at various banking offerings, many rivals criticised Goldman for being too China focused, which was a bit like saying: “How dare they go after where the business is happening!”

In February, Machin was appointed as vice-chairman for Asia ex-Japan, in a move the firm positioned as a promotion. But it may have been a bad omen, for another hitherto powerful Goldman partner, Yusuf Alireza, who was promoted to co-president for Asia at roughly the same time, has also since left the firm.  When Alireza left, Ryan, who had been promoted as his co-president, took on the solo role.

Few top executives in Asia have climbed the ranks and stayed here as long as Machin, as many have used Asia as a stepping stone to jobs in New York and London. But he’s not going away, either. After nearly 17 years in Asia, and the past three focused on China, it could just be that Machin is due for a change. His new remit will allow him to move back to Hong Kong, and is said to be Asia-wide, including Australia and Japan; the latter will be new territory for Machin. So will working on the buy-side.



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