Molson to head GIG at Merrill Lynch

The US investment bank transfers a senior resource from London to head the general industries group in Asia.
Merrill Lynch is transferring Naomi Molson to Hong Kong as head of the general industries group for Asia. Molson will be responsible for origination across consumer, retail, healthcare and multi-industries clients.

Molson was most recently chairman of the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) financial sponsors group and vice chairman of EMEA investment banking. Her experience spans mergers and acquisitions and global financial sponsors. Molson is a veteran at Merrill and has been with the firm since 1995 when she joined from Goldman Sachs.

Molson will relocate from London to Hong Kong immediately.

Merrill says the Pacific Rim, China and India represent some of the firmÆs largest opportunities and that MolsonÆs move will expand its ability to originate in high-growth regions and products.

The move comes just days after Morgan Stanley flew in its global head of media and communications, Scott Matlock, from London and appointed him chairman of M&A for Asia. Matlock was also expected to play a significant role in helping originate deals in Asia.

In both cases the banks have positioned the moves as part of their desire to provide clients in Asia with advice from their best and most experienced people. One key difference though is that Merrill Lynch was currently running its GIG group without a managing director and moving Molson into this position is in line with its stated strategy of filling gaps in its industry coverage. In the case of Matlock, the position of chairman of M&A for Asia was created especially for him.

But, whatever the motivation underlying moving bankers eastwards, it is a fact that business in some other countries and regions has dried up as a result of the global credit crunch. It is now close to a year since the subprime crisis started to cause ripples across financial markets. Markets in the US and Europe do not seem anywhere near a recovery yet for certain products and services. In this environment, Asia is fast becoming a safe haven for bankers as the region continues to witness deals, backed in many instances by a banking system flush with funds.
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