Merrill Lynch poaches from Lehman Brothers

Merrill takes an entire team of bankers focusing on the power industry from Lehman.
A week after JapanÆs leading independent investment bank, Nomura, confirmed it has agreed to acquire Lehman BrothersÆ operations in Asia-Pacific and Europe, Merrill Lynch has swooped in and snapped up a team of Lehman bankers.

Merrill has hired James Chapman as director and head of Asia power investment banking along with a five-member team, all previously from Lehman Brothers, according to an internal memo seen by FinanceAsia. Their remit will be the whole power sector, which includes electricity generation and transmission, and they'll also be involved in deals across in the Pacific Rim, which at Merrill is the term used for Asia including Japan and Australia.

Chapman will report to Naomi Molson, head of consumer, retail, healthcare and multi-industries Asia origination, who herself joined the Asia Merrill team earlier this year from the bank's London office.

The significance of this is that Damian Chunilal, head of Pacific Rim origination, has been saying for the past year that he didn't overbuild his team during the bull market but has been hiring this year, during a down-market. In the past six months Merrill has hired Terence Keyes from Morgan Stanley as head of corporate finance Asia, Dan Newman from Reliance Communications as head of telecoms in the Asia-Pacific region, and also transferred Greg Fournier from Merrill Lynch Canada to boost the metals and mining business.

As Merrill in Asia builds up post its announcement of a merger with Bank of America, HSBC announced late last week that it is cutting 1,100 jobs in its global banking and markets division, which is about 4% of HSBC's wholesale banking workforce worldwide. Approximately 100 of the disappearing jobs are in Hong Kong, mainly in back-office operations.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Washington Mutual was closed by the US government, and its assets sold to J.P. Morgan for $1.9 billion, indicating that the pain in the banking sector is far from over.

But Merrill in Asia is not resting on its laurels. It's seeking talent. Chapman has significant advisory and capital markets experience within the Asia power industry, say Merrill bankers, pointing out he has worked in the industry for the past 14 years, during which time he has developed close relationships with power clients globally. At Lehman Brothers, Chapman was also responsible for supporting the sourcing and execution of interest rate, FX and commodities hedging and other risk management solutions across power sector clients.

The other five members of the team who will join Merrill Lynch are: Anoop Chaudhry, who joins as a vice-president, a position he also held at Lehman Brothers. Chaudhry has also worked at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong and Arthur Andersen in Sydney.

Ken Ng joins as a vice-president. In addition to Lehman Brothers, he has also worked in the structured finance and leveraged finance divisions at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp and Deutsche Bank, respectively.

Raymond Yu and Robert Smith join as associates, while Brian Kelly joins as an analyst.
¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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