RBS's Kirkby returns to Asia for new global banking role

After almost four years in London, Matthew Kirkby returns to Hong Kong to lead the build-out of RBS's investment banking business in Asia-Pacific.

Royal Bank of Scotland is bringing back an old Asia hand as it sets out to grow its investment banking presence in the region. Almost four years after he left Hong Kong to take on a global role based in London, Matthew Kirkby is returning to become head of global banking for Asia-Pacific.

His new job will put him in charge of investment banking, including: M&A and corporate finance advisory; equity and debt capital markets origination; and treasury and investor products in Asia-Pacific. He will also remain global head of corporate finance.

“RBS is deeply committed to building our growing Asia-Pacific investment banking business, and Matthew’s appointment will help us maximise revenues by increasing our focus on delivering our investment banking, financing and risk management products to clients in the region, as well as leveraging our global network,” Marco Mazzucchelli, global head of banking, and deputy CEO, said in a statement.

Kirkby’s extensive experience both in investment banking and in Asia makes him an obvious choice to lead such a push. When he left Hong Kong in early 2007 he was head of M&A and ECM for Asia-Pacific at ABN AMRO (which was subsequently taken over by RBS) and between 2001 and 2005 he was head of ECM for the same region. Before that, in 2000 and 2001, he headed up the South Asia ECM business out of Singapore.

Since 2007 Kirkby has been global head of equities origination and corporate finance for RBS in London, which means he has been responsible for overseeing ECM, corporate finance, corporate derivatives and then firm’s corporate broking unit RBS Hoare Govett.

The appointment is effective immediately and Kirkby will return to Hong Kong later this week. He will report to Mazzucchelli as well as to John McCormick, who is CEO of global banking and markets for Asia-Pacific.

John Mullins, who until now has been regional head of banking in Asia-Pacific, will take on a new role focusing on North Asia (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan) – a key region for the build-out of the bank’s investment banking franchise, according to a spokesperson.

RBS is making good strides within M&A and has advised on a number of landmark transactions in recent months, including: Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Hongkong Electric Holdings’ £5.8 billion ($9.1 billion) acquisition of EDF’s UK distribution network, which was announced in August; and Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan’s proposed $2.8 billion privatisation of Tanjong, an investment holding company involved in power generation, gaming, leisure and property investment. It also underwrote $10.5 billion of a $45 billion acquisition finance facility and acted as an active bookrunner for BHP Billiton’s pending bid for Potash Corp. However, excluding Australia, the bank does not rank in the top 10 in the M&A league tables for Asia so far this year, according to Dealogic.

It is also lagging in ECM and is still looking for a new head of Asia ECM after the resignation of Stanley Ho in early September. Ho had been in the job just three months, having taken over from John Sturmey who left the firm in early June to return to UBS. Among its deals year-to-date are a couple of block trades in Intime Department Store and Lafarge Malayan Cement, as well as convertible bonds for Hynix and MSG producer Fufeng Group.

Kirkby’s appointment is expected to lead to a reshuffle of other management roles within the global banking division.

Meanwhile, in London, Patrick Broughton will take over Kirkby’s former role as global head of equities origination. Broughton, who has more than 23 years of experience in investment banking, was previously head of RBS equity capital markets for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and the US.

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