Matharu says the team's integrated approach will differentiate it from anything that its rivals are doing. The group will work closely with Merrill's country coverage and distribution teams, the credit and commodities trading desks, as well as investment banking to take on the full suite of credit and illiquid risk, in local and hard currency, principally in the form of strategic debt solutions for growth companies including the commodities and natural resource sector.
"We look to take a lot of the risk our competitors wouldn't look at," says Matharu. "We add certain support factors, reduce the credit risk for both parties, then warehouse the deals, package them up and share that risk with investors."
The six hires will be based in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Hong Kong hires are all drawn from Citigroup. Kevin Qi joins as a director with overall responsibility for Greater China solutions. Phil Wang, a vice president, will work with Qi on the Greater China effort. Jason Poon, another vice president, will develop the illiquid asset structuring business.
The Singapore team comprises: Mino Encarnacion, a director with a focus on emerging markets structuring who joins from Framework Capital Solutions; Tony Tan, an associate from Deutsche Bank who will help to expand South Asia structuring capabilities; and Amitesh Rattan, who joins from BNP Paribas as an analyst focusing on emerging markets credit derivatives.
The internal hires come from the bank's integrated structuring group. Jay Ganapathy, a director, becomes head of Asia-Pacific credit and illiquid risk structuring; Shahzad Lalani, also a director, will focus on illiquid asset structuring; and Yuhin Gan, a vice president, will drive the emerging market credit derivatives effort.
Further expansion is planned for the group in Japan and, to a lesser degree, Australia. The group follows on from the successful establishment of similar groups in Europe and Latin America last year.