The appointment of Sumeet Puri to these new roles is the latest in a series of new hires and transfers of key Merrill people to India over the past six months and shows how serious the investment bank is about the integration of its Indian investment banking arm, DSP Merrill Lynch, into its regional and global platforms.
The US investment bank took control of DSP Merrill in December 2005 when it increased its stake to 90% from 40% by acquiring the majority of the shares held by its joint venture partner Hemendra Kothari and some minority shareholders. Kothari still owns 10% of the joint venture, which was formed in 1993.
An Indian native, Puri will be responsible for the origination and execution of all the firmÆs equity and equity-linked business in India, as well as the origination of its structured product business û a business that is growing rapidly. He will work closely both with the investment banking team and with internal and external partners.
ôThere is an increasing complexity about the (investment banking) business done in India as the market matures and SumeetÆs experience will take MerrillÆs franchise to a new level,ö notes one observer.
Puri brings 13 years of Asian ECM experience to his new job, including four years with DSP Merrill before he moved to Hong Kong in 1999. Aside from his work on flagship IPOs like Industrial and Commercial Bank of ChinaÆs $21.9 billion offering in October, PuriÆs input into the origination and execution of many of MerrillÆs most successful structured and principal transactions over the past 18 months has been integral to their success, according to an internal announcement.
Puri will report to locally to Patricia (Patti) McLaughlin, vice chairman of India investment banking, who herself transferred to India as recently as August last year. Regionally, he will report to Ian Carton, the firmÆs Hong Kong-based head of Pacific Rim ECM.
Over the past 12 months, DSP Merrill has helped arrange IPOs for a series of Indian issuers, including Cairn Energy, Reliance Petroleum and Parsvnath Developers. The latter was the first IPO by an Indian property company to be open to foreign investors. It also arranged follow-on equity offerings for Union Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Andhra Bank.
Looking ahead to this year, Merrill DSP is one of the bookrunners on DLF UniversalÆs upcoming IPO, which is expected to raise more than $2 billion in March or April.
The head of syndicate position left empty by Puri in Hong Kong hasnÆt yet been filled, but a successor is expected to be named in the near future, according to people familiar with the matter. Puri will stay in Hong Kong for another couple of months before moving to Mumbai, but will start working on his new beat pretty much immediately.