Morgan Stanley hires new Taiwan CEO

Former UBS veteran Sean Chao takes over from Gary Kuo who is joining Barclays Capital as co-head of investment banking for Greater China.

Morgan Stanley has hired Sean Chao, an 18-year veteran of UBS, to become its new CEO for Taiwan, according to a press release issued yesterday. While he will hold a different title, Chao will effectively replace Gary Kuo who left Morgan Stanley in early July to head up the Greater China investment banking business at Barclays Capital. Kuo, who had been with Morgan Stanley since 2001, was country head for Taiwan and head of Taiwan investment banking.

Chao has been head of Taiwan at UBS since 1998. He started at the firm in 1993 as head of Taiwan investment banking, a title he continued to hold until 2004. According to the release, he also played a significant role in the establishment of UBS’s domestic wealth management business in Taiwan in 1999/2000 and from 2004 to 2005 he was chairman of UBS Asset Management in the country.

Prior to joining UBS he worked in corporate banking with Seattle First Bank and Westpac, including a stint with Westpac Project & Advisory Services in Sydney in the late 1980s when he advised on project finance and M&A transactions between Asia and Australia.

He will join Morgan Stanley in December and will continue to be based in Taipei.

Owen Thomas, Morgan Stanley’s Asia CEO, noted that this is an important hire both for the Taiwan business and for the firm’s broader Asia franchise.

Chao “brings a wide range of investment banking, wealth management and asset management experience to the role, as well as proven leadership and business-building skills,” Thomas said. “The firm will also benefit from his extensive senior corporate and government relationships.”

Thomas also noted Morgan Stanley’s strong track record in Taiwan and added that the country is an important market for the bank, and one in which it has “significant growth plans”.

Specifically, the bank is expanding its fixed-income and private wealth management operations. It also continues to gain market share in equity sales and trading and is currently the second largest international broker in Taiwan in terms of trading volumes.

Morgan Stanley has also been busy on the investment banking side and is currently advising FarEasTone on its $650 million offer to acquire the rest of its fixed-line affiliate New Century InfoCom; and Taiwan’s China Network Systems with regard to the sale of the company by MBK Partners. It is also helping AIG sell its Nan Shan life insurance business in Taiwan, a transaction that is dragging out due to difficulties in getting regulatory approval.

Kuo, Morgan Stanley’s former country head of Taiwan, will become co-head of investment banking for Greater China at Barclays Capital together with Peter Ding, an M&A banker who was also hired from Morgan Stanley at around the same time as Kuo. They are expected to start their new jobs in early October.

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