Arthur Lang, co-head of investment banking for Southeast Asia at Morgan Stanley, is leaving the bank after 15 years to become group chief financial officer at Singapore property company CapitaLand. The appointment takes effect in mid-September and was announced by CapitaLand in a filing to the Singapore stock exchange yesterday.
A Morgan Stanley spokesman confirmed that Lang will be leaving, but had no comment beyond that. However, he did say that Lang’s fellow co-head for Southeast Asia, Eric Ma, will retain his current title for now, which suggests the bank is looking to appoint someone to take Lang’s place.
Even so, his departure will be a loss for the US bank. A native Singaporean, he joined Morgan Stanley’s investment banking division in his home country in 1996 and since then has brought in and worked on numerous high-profile advisory and financing transactions for Singapore clients, including Temasek Holdings, which is the controlling shareholder of CapitaLand, and CapitaMall Trust, a real estate investment trust (Reit) sponsored by CapitaLand.
Among other things, Lang advised Temasek on the sale of its three Singapore power generation companies in 2008. Other clients of his include Singapore Telecommunications, Singapore Power, ports operator PSA International, Neptune Orient Lines, Fraser & Neave and Singapore Airlines. Outside of Singapore, he worked on the $4.5 billion two-tranche bond offering for Malaysian oil and gas giant Petronas in 2009.
The fact that Lang isn’t going to a competitor should be some consolation for Morgan Stanley. His move to CapitaLand could also put the US bank in a good position to win more business from the group — although this is by no means a given. For a long time, J.P. Morgan was widely viewed as the go-to bank for CapitaLand and its associate companies, but Morgan Stanley and several other banks have worked hard to break that trend and make CapitaLand a more regular client of theirs. And in the past couple of years the Singapore real estate group has been spreading its business a bit more widely, even if J.P. Morgan still gets more than its fair share. In April last year, Morgan Stanley arranged a $500 million five-year bond for CapitaMall on a sole basis.
Taking a break from his regular duties, Lang spent two years in Hong Kong as Morgan Stanley’s chief operating officer for investment banking for Asia-Pacific ex-Japan in 2007 and 2008 — a position that is rotated among the firm’s senior investment bankers to give them management experience. He was named co-head of investment banking for Southeast Asia in March 2010, together with Ma.
Commenting on the hire, CapitaLand’s president and CEO, Liew Mun Leong, said the group is “continually scouting for senior management talent to expand the present strong management bench strength with fresh talent and varied skill sets. This is important in order to support the group’s international footprint and growth opportunities”.
Lang will replace Olivier Lim, who will become head of strategic corporate development, including mergers and acquisitions. Lim has been with CapitaLand since 2003 and has been group CFO since July 2005. He will continue to advise the group on overall capital management activities during a transition period, according to the stock exchange statement.
Lim will retain his concurrent role as non-executive chairman of Australand Holdings, CapitaLand’s listed subsidiary in Australia, and will continue to be a member of the office of the president.
“Job rotation for top management is essential for both their personal growth and career progression, and also for them to bring fresh perspective and dynamism to the business,” Leong said. “[Lim] has done very well as our group CFO, managing the multiple and continuous financial management demands expected of an international company like CapitaLand. It is timely to expose him to other leadership positions to oversee other pressing requirements for the group.”
CapitaLand is one of the top real estate companies in Asia with a market capitalisation of about $9.7 billion and numerous listed entities, including six Reits. The company is active in more than 20 countries across Asia and Europe and its businesses span from the development and ownership of homes, offices, shopping malls, serviced residences and mixed developments to real estate financial services.