Nicholson becomes head of ECM at BOCI

à.while his old firm Macquarie continues its Asian corporate finance hiring spree.

Marshall Nicholson, who left the ECM desk at Macquarie Securities just before Christmas, will resurface towards the end of this month as managing director and head of ECM at BOCI Asia, the investment banking arm of Bank of China.

Based in Hong Kong, Nicholson will focus primarily on the international side of the business, including IPOs and secondary fundraisings for Chinese companies in Hong Kong and other offshore markets. However, he will also take part in BOCIÆs efforts to build up its international and domestic equity capital markets platforms with the aim of becoming the leading investment bank in China.

Nicholson will report directly to BOCIÆs CEO Max Wang and will fill a position that was left vacant when Eric Wong left the firm after 13 years to join Lehman Brothers in November.

Before his 17 months as managing director at Macquarie, focusing on Greater China ECM, Nicholson spent three years with Credit Suisse as head of ECM for the non-Japan Asia region. His has worked on numerous transactions for Chinese companies during his four and a half years in Asia, including the IPOs for SinoTrans, China Oilfield Services, SMIC and the $3.5 billion listing of China Life Insurance.

Prior to arriving in Asia in 2002 he worked as an investment banker at JPMorgan and Merrill Lynch in New York for 10 years.

Given his background with such high-profile firms, it may seem surprising that Nicholson would join BOCI, which is commonly regarded as a second or even third tier player in the international capital markets. However, the investment bank was ranked 10th in DealogicÆs ECM league tables for Asia ex-Japan last year û ahead of Macquarie in 18th place. It also worked on seven deals in the international market in 2006, including the $11.2 billion listing of its parent company, compared with none in 2005, and according to sources it has already secured a number of mandates for this year.

ôBank of China is the oldest bank in China with deep significant relationships and a large capital base and it is very focused on building a competitive investment banking platform,ö Nicholson told FinanceAsia with regard to what attracted him to the firm.

Meanwhile, Macquarie has hired three new managing directors to its corporate finance team and is in the process of adding a fourth, according to people familiar with the expansion. The bank has added more than 45 people to its corporate finance team in the past quarter, they say.

However, the Australian investment bank doesnÆt plan to hire anyone to directly replace Nicholson or its former Head of Asia ECM, Philippe Espinasse, who resigned in October. Instead, the five managing directors in the bankÆs ECM team report directly to Andrew Low, the firmÆs head of Asia corporate finance.

The new hires comprise Michelle Lu, who joins from Temasek to focus on infrastructure and utilities business in China across advisory and ECM; David Walker, who will join in the industrials group to focus on global forestry and related products; and Gordon Kuik, who will focus on driving growth in MacquarieÆs Malyasia business. Lu will be based in Beijing, while Walker joins the firm in Singapore and Kuik will be based in Kuala Lumpur.

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