Peter Burnett joins Standard Chartered in corporate finance role

The ex-UBS banker will be reunited with former colleague Mark Dowie who heads up the corporate finance business at Standard Chartered.

Peter Burnett, a long-time UBS banker, is moving to Standard Chartered to take up a newly created role as regional head of corporate finance for Northeast Asia, the UK-headquartered bank said in a release yesterday.

The hire will reunite Burnett with Mark Dowie, who he worked with between 2000 and 2004 when they were both co-heads of investment banking for Asia at UBS. Dowie is now group head of corporate finance at Standard Chartered.

Burnett has spent 24 years with UBS, most recently as chairman of global capital markets (GCM) for Asia, a role that he has held since June 2010 when UBS brought him back to the bank and the region to help beef up its senior capital markets bench in Asia. At that time Burnett had spent about a year away from the industry, having left UBS in mid-2009 after three years as CEO and chairman of the bank’s Middle East and North Africa business.

Since his return to UBS he has been working with the bank’s most senior clients in the region and sources say he has added a lot of expertise and value to the GCM business. He resigned early this year and will be joining Standard Chartered on Monday next week after a three-month gardening leave.

His job at Standard Chartered will be significantly broader and will incorporate project and export finance, and structured trade finance, in addition to more familiar areas such as financing solutions, equity capital markets and M&A advisory. Source said the opportunity to do something new and to actively lead a business again likely contributed to Burnett’s decision to join the UK bank. The chance to work with Dowie probably also played a role as the two of them go way back.

Burnett wasn’t reachable yesterday, but the Standard Chartered release quoted Dowie as saying that he is “very excited” to be working with Burnett again.

“His extensive business experience with long standing, deep client relationships, especially in Asia and the Middle East synergises very well with our business philosophy and focus. I have no doubt that he will be a huge asset to our clients and provide us with a greater focus on business delivery and strategy,” Dowie said.

According to the release, Burnett will be responsible for the growth and direction of the corporate finance business in Northeast Asia. He will be based in Hong Kong and report to Dowie. He will also work closely with Gene Kim, the bank’s regional head of global markets for Northeast Asia.

Standard Chartered, which derives more than 80% of its revenues from emerging markets, is different to most other banks in that its business is based around its corporate lending relationships. The push into equity capital markets and M&A in recent years has been driven largely by a desire to increase the revenues from these clients by providing other products and services that they need, but did previously obtain from other, more product-driven banks.

The leveraging of its existing relationships has made Standard Chartered one of the more successful “new” entrants into the investment banking space in Asia ex-Japan in the past few years. Of course, it has also hired a number of bankers from bulge-bracket firms to lead the expansion of its wholesale banking business.

Dowie joined Standard Chartered in August 2011 after spending about seven years running his own marine services and boat sales business in England. A former Royal Navy officer, he had left UBS in 2004, less than a year after he moved back to London to become vice-chairman of the investment bank.  

Burnett stayed on as co-head of investment banking for Asia when Dowie moved to London, working for the next two years with Rob Rankin, who became his new co-head. He left the region in 2006 for the job as CEO and chairman for Middle East and North Africa.

Before heading up the investment banking business for six years, Burnett was head of Asia ECM from 1996 to 1999. He joined UBS in 1989, working in investment banking and ECM in London before moving to Hong Kong in January 1996.

Other recent hires by Standard Chartered include Jeremy Amias, a former Citi banker and founder of boutique fixed-income firm Amias Berman & Co, who joined in March as global head of investor client coverage; Erwin Sanft, who joined from BNP Paribas in January as head of Hong Kong and China equity research; and Steven Sun, who joined in October last year as head of financial institutions coverage for North Asia. Sun had most recently been with Barclays, but he too has a background with UBS.

Meanwhile, Standard Chartered has still not appointed a permanent head of ECM to replace David Douglas who left the firm at the end of January. A Rajagopal, who is head of ECM for South and Southeast Asia, has been leading the global ECM business on a temporary basis since Douglas’s departure and sources have said that he is a strong candidate to take over the job permanently.

Douglas had initially planned to leave Standard Chartered by the end of March, but the appointment of Rajagopal as a temporary replacement allowed him to hit the road a couple of months early.

Given that Burnett’s role as chairman of GCM at UBS was to add value beyond the day-to-day job of running the business, sources said he is unlikely to be replaced. In any case, the position hasn’t been filled in the three months since he left the bank. UBS’s GCM business in Asia is led by Joseph Chee.

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