Bank of China move

Nicholson leaves Bank of China after five years as ECM head

Sources say he will join the investment banking department at CICC in April.
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Bank of China Tower: Nicholson worked his last day at BOCI on Tuesday
<div style="text-align: left;"> Bank of China Tower: Nicholson worked his last day at BOCI on Tuesday </div>

Marshall Nicholson has left Bank of China International (BOCI) after slightly more than five years with the firm. During this time he has played a key role in building a competitive international capital markets platform that has helped numerous Chinese companies raise capital in Hong Kong.

Nicholson, who was global head of equity capital markets and vice-chairman of investment banking, was the first senior foreign banker to join Bank of China’s investment banking arm.

He wrote in an email announcing his departure yesterday that he will stay within the investment banking and capital markets business in Hong Kong, but did not elaborate on his next appointment.

However, sources say that Nicholson, who has a background with Macquarie and Credit Suisse, is joining China International Capital Corp (CICC) in a senior position in the investment banking department. His exact role isn’t clear but it is thought to involve broad responsibilities within the department. He is expected to start at the end of April. A spokesperson at CICC declined to comment.

It is an interesting move in that it suggests CICC is looking to become a bigger player in the international market. The firm, which was set up as a joint venture between China Construction Bank and Morgan Stanley in 1995, was the first Chinese investment bank to have a role on Hong Kong listings by Chinese state-owned enterprises and it is still viewed as the best Hong Kong IPO house for SOEs. However, other firms, including BOCI and CCB International, have become increasingly competitive in recent years through their work not just with SOEs, but with small and mid-cap companies in the private sector.

In his email, Nicholson noted that during his five years at BOCI, the bank has executed 87 ECM transactions in Hong Kong and said that the business he is proud of is “the building of a competitive Hong Kong placement business”. When he joined in January 2007, BOCI’s most recent placement was a follow-on for Bank of China (Hong Kong) in December 2003.

Supposedly CICC is looking to up its game beyond the SOE IPO business and may also be looking to broaden its client base to include more foreign investors — areas where Nicholson has proven that he can add value.

Year-to-date, BOCI tops Dealogic’s ECM bookrunner ranking in Hong Kong on the back of three transactions, including the $580 million IPO for Canada’s Sunshine Oilsands, which is the largest IPO in Hong Kong so far this year, and a $157 million H-share placement for AviChina Industry & Technology that it led on a sole basis. Both were completed last Friday.

In 2011 the firm ranked 12th in terms of value, while CICC was ninth.

Nicholson joined BOCI from Macquarie Securities, where he spent 17 months as a managing director, focusing on Greater China ECM. And between July 2002 and January 2005 he was head of ECM for Asia ex-Japan at Credit Suisse. He worked on numerous transactions for Chinese companies while at these two firms, including the IPOs for SinoTrans, China Oilfield Services, SMIC and the $3.5 billion listing of China Life Insurance.

Among the major deals he helped execute at BOCI was the $2.24 billion IPO of Russian aluminium producer Rusal, which in January 2010 became the first non-Asian company to list in Hong Kong.

Prior to arriving in Asia in 2002, Nicholson worked as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch in New York for 10 years.

Nicholson resigned on February 20, but stayed on for an additional week to complete Sunshine Oilsands’ IPO and the follow-on for AviChina. He worked his last day at BOCI yesterday. A spokesperson at the bank said that a decision about his replacement has yet to be made.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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