Merrill ECM head takes on new role in sales

Soofian Zuberi becomes responsible for all sales activities across both equities and fixed income, leaving Jason Cox as the sole head of equity capital markets.

Soofian Zuberi, the co-head of equity capital markets at Merrill Lynch, has been promoted to a new role as head of Asia Pacific ex-Japan global markets sales, which according to an internal announcement, makes him responsible for all sales activities across equities and FICC. FICC includes fixed-income, currencies, commodities, rates, structured products and asset and liabilities structuring.

The introduction of a sales overlay across both equity and fixed income is in line with Bank of America's aim for greater integration between the divisions as it attempts to incorporate Merrill Lynch into its own organisation following the legal completion of its takeover on January 1.

A 14-year veteran of Merrill Lynch, Zuberi has a background that spans not only equities (head of ECM and head of equity syndicate) but debt and commodities as well, making him well-suited for his new role. However, observers say that it is likely that Zuberi landed the new job because of his track record of innovation and creative thinking and his understanding of the needs of both issuers and investor clients -- as demonstrated through several highly structured equity deals over the past couple of years. He is also being described as a team player, which will be important when it comes to getting the sales people to cooperate across product categories and asset classes.

In his new role, Zuberi will report to Mike Halloran, who is head of FICC, and Yasuhiro Fujiwara, who is head of equities. He will continue to be based in Hong Kong.

Zuberi was promoted to co-head of ECM together with Jason Cox in February 2007. Since then, the pair has been involved in a number of notable transactions in both the public and private markets, such as the $529 million initial public offering of Indonesian coal miner Bayan Resources and last year's much-talked-about $500 million structured convertible for Country Garden. Merrill has also established itself as one of the top banks when it comes to bringing Chinese companies to the US market and currently sits at the top of the Asia ex-Japan ECM league table for 2009 after being involved in two block trades in Hong Kong.

Prior to becoming co-head of ECM, Zuberi was in charge of the redevelopment of Merrill's ECM franchise in Southeast Asia. He has also held a variety of ECM roles in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, working on both traditional and structured products.

While not yet confirmed by the bank, a source said that Jason Cox will become sole head of ECM as Zuberi moves across to global markets. Cox joined Merrill from Goldman Sachs in 2005 and since then has been primarily responsible for the business in Korea, Taiwan and China. Currently based in Hong Kong, Cox has been in Asia since 1995 and has held a number of DCM and ECM roles. 

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