Merrill's head of Pacific Rim ECM resigns

Alex Woodthorpe hands in his notice after 13 years with the US investment bank, but agrees to stay on for a transition period.
Only a day after news emerged of a key departure in its private banking division and the dismissal of one its top DCM bankers in the region, Merrill Lynch has lost its head of equity capital markets for the Pacific Rim. According to an internal announcement, Alex Woodthorpe has decided to leave Merrill after 13 years with the firm to ôpursue new challenges in his personal life and spend more time with his wifeö.

Woodthorpe is the latest in a string of high-profile bankers to leave Merrill since the US investment bank agreed to be taken over by Bank of America. Investment bankers who have decided to stay with the combined entity have said that the backing of BoAÆs balance sheet provides a degree of comfort that will be helpful for doing business in the current market environment. However, the fact that a number of senior bankers, including Greg Fleming who was to become head of corporate and investment banking globally for the combined entity, are choosing to leave to pursue other opportunities also suggests that there is some uncertainty about how the business will develop under BoA, which is first and foremost a US retail and commercial bank.

On top of that, plans by BoA to trim the headcount at the merged entity by 30,000 to 35,000 people over the next three years may have prompted some bankers to look around for other options. The layoffs started in earnest after the BoA takeover took effect on January 1, and are expected to be carried out in several stages.

Woodthorpe has, however, agreed to stay with the firm for a transition period, the length of which wasnÆt specified.

According to the internal announcement by Lisa Carnoy, head of global equity and equity-linked capital markets, Woodthorpe has played a key role in growing MerrillÆs ECM business around the world and has been ôcriticalö to numerous award-winning transactions. Before taking on his most recent position in March 2007, he was head of ECM for Japan. He has also headed up the ECM business in Australia and the London-based equity syndicate desk for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He joined Merrill in New York in 1995 as an associate in the ECM department.

MerrillÆs ECM department will by no means be rudderless following WoodthorpeÆs departure, thanks to its two co-heads of ECM for Asia û Jason Cox and Soofian Zuberi û who have led the firmÆs ECM efforts in the region for close to two years already.

On Tuesday this week, sources said that Rahul Malhotra, who was overseeing all of MerrillÆs private bankers in the region, had resigned to take on a new challenge away from Merrill after a little more than two years with the bank. The same sources also said that Jon Pratt has left Merrill as part of the downsizing efforts. Pratt had been head of debt capital markets for Asia excluding Japan and Australia since he joined Merrill from Credit Suisse in September 2006.
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