Sameer Sopori resurfaces at BNP Paribas as Asia high-yield head

Former Standard Chartered high-yield banker Sameer Sopori's hiring comes at a surprising time given that most banks are cutting back.

Sameer Sopori has joined BNP Paribas as its head of high-yield capital markets, Asia-Pacific. He is based in Singapore and reports to Frank Kwong, head of syndicate for Asia, and Chanant Charnchainarong, head of fixed-income for Southeast Asia. He is tasked with developing the bank’s high-yield franchise across the region.

Sopori’s arrival comes at a surprising time: the hiring window is closed at most firms and investment banks have been cutting back as opposed to hiring staff, including the recent announcement from UBS that it is winding down its fixed-income business. (The cuts are mainly expected to affect the fixed-income trading side of the business, with a UBS source claiming it will not affect debt capital markets.)

According to an internal source, BNP Paribas has been trying to fill the role for a while. (The last time BNP had a high-yield head was before the Lehman crisis in 2008.)

“We have been looking for some time,” he said. “There hasn’t been that much high-yield issuance in this year but we expect it will pick up and would like to capture that flow, to complement our investment-grade business.”

Sopori was previously the global head of the high-yield product group at Standard Chartered until he left in June last year. At that time, according to one person familiar with the situation, he left over a difference of opinion regarding strategies for the high-yield team. He was replaced by Peter Szekely, who is now Standard Chartered’s global head of high-yield. Before Standard Chartered, Sopori also worked at Credit Suisse, UBS and Morgan Stanley in London and Hong Kong.

“We are delighted that Sameer has joined the team to build up our high-yield business in Asia, especially given the resurgence in primary issuance,” said Bob Hawley, BNP’s head of fixed-income for Asia-Pacific, in the release. “This is a key appointment for our growing ambitions in Asia’s debt capital markets and our continued commitment to the region.”

Building up a high-yield franchise may prove to be challenging in a market that is highly competitive. Although Asian dollar bond issuance has reached record levels, high-yield volumes this year have been patchy. BNP Paribas was ranked 15th in the Asia ex-Japan US dollar bond league tables and 16th in the Asia-ex Japan US dollar high-yield league tables, according to Dealogic.

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