Puri has been with Merrill for 13 years and before his transfer to Mumbai this year he was head of Asia execution and syndication based in Hong Kong. In India, Puri reported to Patricia McLaughlin, vice chairman of India investment banking, who herself transferred to India as recently as August last year.
Despite being an Indian native and having worked four years with DSP Merrill before he moved to Hong Kong in 1999, it appears the transition back to India wasnÆt that smooth and after only a few months in the new job, Puri decided to cut his losses and move on.
He isnÆt entirely gone, however, as Merrill Lynch asked him to stay on through his gardening leave period to help the bank with the execution of several high-profile Indian deals that are happening this month. He is currently doing this out of the Hong Kong office.
According to a Merrill spokesman, the bank is also trying to find another role for Puri within the bank. However, sources say he is hoping to have found another job by the time he is due to leave Merrill Lynch in mid-July, perhaps on the buy-side.
The sources say that office politics in the Indian arm of the business played a role in PuriÆs decision to leave the bank and has also been behind the departure of several other bankers since the US investment bank took control of DSP Merrill in December 2005. Merrill acquired the majority of the shares held by its joint venture partner Hemendra Kothari and some minority shareholders to lift its stake in the joint venture to 90% from 40%. Kothari still owns 10% of the joint venture, which was formed in 1993, and acts as its chairman.
Among the high profile departures are Sanjay Sharma, who was PuriÆs predecessor as head of ECM, and Amit Chandra, head of global markets and investment banking, who quit the bank at the end of 2006. Sharma left to join Deutsche Bank, while Chandra moved on to set up his own hedge fund.
Last month, Vikas Khattar, who was an 11-year veteran at DSP Merrill Lynch announced that he was leaving to join Citi where he will be reunited with Ravi Kapoor. Kapoor was head of equity origination and capital markets at DSP Merrill Lynch until April 2005, and then left to join Citi and start up a similar business there.
Also in 2005, Rajeev Gupta, co-head of investment banking with Chandra, left to join CarlyleÆs buyout fund as a managing director.
So far the departures donÆt seem to have had much impact on MerrillÆs business in India, however. In fact, the bank has been involved as a bookrunner in four of the five international offerings from Indian issuers that are expected to be completed this month, including the $2.25 billion IPO for real estate developer DLF which was priced on Friday and marks the largest ever listing in India.
Merrill is also involved in ongoing offerings for ICICI Bank and Sterlite as well as the upcoming follow-on ADR for HDFC Bank. These four deals represent a combined issuance volume of about $10 billion.
According to the spokesman, the US investment bank is seeing record revenues in India this year and its headcount at DSP Merrill is also up since it took control of the business.