McMurdo steps into Deutsche Bank's Asian void

The task facing the bank's Australia and New Zealand CEO is to revitalise the franchise after several high-level departures and a corruption scandal in China.

James McMurdo is Deutsche Bank's new head of corporate and investment banking for the Asia-Pacific region, according to an internal memo seen by FinanceAsia on Thursday.

His task now is to turn around a franchise hit by high-level departures and scandal, having already helped to revive Deutsche Bank's business in Australia and New Zealand.

McMurdo's promotion comes three months after FinanceAsia reported the departure of Bhupinder Singh, the former regional co-head of corporate banking and securities,

It also comes in the wake of an anti-corruption probe against the president of China's Hua Xia Bank, which has brought unwanted attention to Deutsche Bank's 19.99% stake in the company and prompted the German bank to consider selling it. In its third-quarter results the bank included a €0.6 billion impairment charge for the carrying value of the Hua Xia Bank stake as well as litigation provisions of about €1.2 billion. 

McMurdo, 51 years old, will report functionally into Jeff Urwin, global head of corporate investment banking, and regionally to Gunit Chadha, chief executive officer Asia Pacific, and will relocate to Hong Kong from Sydney.

As Deutsche Bank’s chief executive officer for Australia and New Zealand McMurdo has developed a reputation as a fixer -- something which could come in handy as the regional business restructures.

The bank's corporate banking and securities (CB&S) business has been split in two: markets and CIB. Transaction banking will be part of CIB and Lisa Robins will continue to head the division and report to McMurdo.

CB&S was made up of corporate finance and markets, including sales, trading and structuring of financial products. The division makes up the lion's share of Deutsche’s business in Asia-Pacific. 

McMurdo’s decision comes as Deutsche Bank restructures globally. The firm is exiting businesses with a low return on equity -- countries as well as client relationships. Asia as a whole will continue to receive investment while sales and trading globally is set to shrink by 2020.

CIB spans 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

High-level departures

Singh, the former co-head of CB&S for Asia Pacific, said he was leaving in August, increasing the number of gaps in the ranks of senior managers in the region.  

Douglas Morton, who worked out of Hong Kong and oversaw its investment banking unit, and Venky Vishwanathan, who was based in Singapore and led capital markets activities, remain on leave.

The departures of Morton and Vishwanathan, co-heads of corporate finance in Asia at the German bank, came two-and-a-half weeks after China opened its probe into Hua Xia Bank.

Robert Ebert, head of equities Asia, Japan and Australia, was involved in a car crash in June in Hong Kong that caused the death of a parking lot employee

Neil Kell, its equity capital markets head for Asia excluding Japan and Australasia, re-joined Bank of America Merrill Lynch as chairman of international equity capital markets.

Singh's former fellow co-head of CB&S, Michael Ormaechea will be head of global markets, Asia Pacific. He will continue to have direct oversight of all debt trading activities in the region.

Ormaechea joined Deutsche Bank in 1995 and is a member of the Asia Pacific Executive Committee for Deutsche Bank Group, a board member for Deutsche Bank China, a member of the Markets Executive Committee, and now chair of the Fixed Income & Currencies (FIC) Executive Committee.

Prior to joining Deutsche Bank Ormaechea worked with Westpac in Australia and London. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of New South Wales.

The fixer

McMurdo joined Deutsche Bank in Australia from Goldman Sachs in 2013. Since then earnings at the unit have bounced back into the black, filings to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission show. Deutsche Bank Australia reported a net profit of $38.2 million in 2014.  

“James made a very positive impact as CEO of our Australian business,” Gunit Chadha said in the internal memo seen by FinanceAsia.

Among his deals, McMurdo has worked on a scoping study for the New South Wales government on potential sale options for its electricity network business; the A$5.7 billion initial public offering of Medibank; the A$1.0 billion IPO of Spotless; a bond offering for First Quantum for A$500 million; and an equity raising for Spark Infrastructure valued at A$300 million.

At Goldman Sachs he was a partner and head of its financial sponsors group for Europe Middle East and Africa. Prior to this he was co-head of investment banking in Australia & New Zealand at Goldman. 

He joined Goldman Sachs JBWere in 2005 after heading industrial coverage at UBS in Australia. He started his career as a chartered accountant in London.

McMurdo is a member of Deutsche Bank’s Asia Pacific Executive Committee. 

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