M&A in HK

Marlin & Associates hires Rob Agnew to lead Asia business

The New York boutique advisory firm has hired Rob Agnew to help it exploit opportunities among middle-market technology companies.
Rob Agnew, Marlin & Associates
Rob Agnew, Marlin & Associates

New York’s Marlin & Associates is set to join the list of boutique investment banks targeting growth in Asia after opening an office in Hong Kong.

The firm, run by ex-marine Ken Marlin, specialises in providing strategic and financial advice to buyers and sellers of middle-market technology firms. Since its foundation in 2008, the business has expanded to Washington, DC and Toronto, but this is its first venture outside North America.

Marlin has hired Rob Agnew to lead the business in Asia. Agnew has been running his own strategic advisory firm, Matrix Services, for the past nine years, based in Hong Kong. During that time, his clients have included Thomson Reuters, the London and Australian Stock Exchanges, Dow Jones and even Haymarket, the owner of FinanceAsia.

"[Rob’s] experience helping firms exploit the considerable opportunities in the fastest growing markets in the world and advising them as they navigate the challenges of doing business in Asia will be invaluable to our clients,” said Marlin in a written statement. “We are pleased that he has joined us and we are fortunate to have attracted him to our team. His appointment will greatly add to our ability to advise Western clients seeking to expand in Asia and Asian clients seeking to capitalise on worldwide opportunities."

Before setting up Matrix, Agnew worked for Reuters in various finance and management roles in the US and in Asia, where he led the company’s finance function for the Greater China region.

An Irishman, Agnew is also chairman of the Irish Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, as well as the Asia-Pacific Ireland Business Forum.

Marlin’s own background includes a tour of duty in Asia — literally. A former captain and infantry company commander in the US Marine Corps, he served two tours in the Far East before ending up in New York as senior vice-president for strategy, mergers and acquisitions at Dun & Bradstreet, back when it owned companies such as Moody’s Investors Service, Interactive Data Corporation, Datastream International, IMS Health, ACNielsen, Nielsen Media Research and a majority stake in Gartner Group.

He also worked at private equity fund Veronis Suhler Stevenson and left D&B to take over Telekurs, a global information technology and data firm he eventually sold to Bridge Information Systems.

Marlin’s recent experience includes advising Australia’s Photolibrary on its acquisition last month by rival Getty Images, as well as deals for Deutsche Boerse, NYSE Euronext and Swift, the financial transfer provider.

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