Following its aggressive hiring within equity sales and research in the past 18 months, Samsung Securities International is now looking to boost its investment banking team in Asia by adding up to 20 corporate finance bankers. The new additions, which will be based in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, will add to the seven corporate finance bankers already on board, Paul Chong, the firm’s head of investment banking and principal investments, said yesterday.
Chong hopes to be able to hire the bulk of these bankers in the next few months after the payment of bonuses at most investment banks. The bonus round is typically followed by a period of musical chairs as bankers seek new challenges and rival banks take the chance to poach talent without having to “buy them out”.
Since the beginning of this year, Samsung Securities International, which is the Asian arm of one of Korea’s largest securities firms, has already signed on two new bankers, including Elton Zhang, who will come on board next week to take up a position as head of corporate finance for China. Zhang was most recently with Deutsche Bank for about one year, where he had a role that straddled the corporate finance and debt capital markets teams. He has previously also worked in the principal investment group with Lehman Brothers in Hong Kong and with BNP Paribas.
In addition to the corporate finance bankers, Samsung has also hired a head of equity syndicate who will come on board in late March. The syndicate head, who hasn’t yet been disclosed, is the first ECM hire made by Steven Metcalfe since he joined as head of equity capital markets in October and brings the ECM team to a total of two people. Next, he is looking to add some origination bankers.
Meanwhile, Sung June Hwang, Samsung’s new chief executive who joined in August last year, has almost completed the build-up within equity sales and research. The latest additions include two sales teams that have been hired from Macquarie in London and Singapore, and a head of sales in New York, who is joining from Deutsche Bank and will come on board by the end of the first quarter. Before these hires, Samsung had three salespeople in Singapore, three in London and four in New York. It also has five salespeople in Hong Kong.
The new sales teams in London and Singapore have a background with Barings and ING Barings and bring 20 to 30 years of sales experience to the firm.
Samsung also has a research team of more than 40 people in Hong Kong following an aggressive hiring spree since it opened its Hong Kong office in August 2009.
Being relatively new to the region, Samsung is offering potential hires the opportunity to help build a new business – something which has proven to be quite a strong incentive for high-profile bankers in the past couple of years, as evidenced by the successful build-up by the likes of Barclays Capital and Standard Chartered. Indeed, Hwang, Chong and Metcalfe all fall into this category of bankers, given their background with major firms.
Hwang was previously head of non-Japan equities and head of Asia-Pacific equities distribution at Credit Suisse and played a big role in building the Swiss bank’s equities business in the region. Chong’s previous employers include Goldman Sachs, Macquarie and SBC Warburg, while Metcalfe joined Samsung after close to 15 years in investment banking in Asia with firms like Nomura, Credit Suisse and SG Warburg. Immediately before joining Samsung he spent three years away from the investment banking industry, however. During that time he was involved in a number of different investment projects, including Indian real estate, distressed assets in the UK, wine broking and film.
In spite of being the new kid on the block, Samsung is showing good momentum already. According to Chong, the corporate finance team is currently working on three pre-IPO sell-side mandates in the mining sector for companies with assets in Mongolia, Indonesia and Africa. The largest of the three is expected to raise as much as $200 million. In November last year, the firm also acted as co-manager on the $88 million US IPO of Chinese menswear designer and manufacturer China Xiniya Fashion. With no licence yet to underwrite US IPOs, Samsung lead managed the Asian tranche, while US firm Cowen & Co was the bookrunner.
Samsung has also completed a few IPOs and placements for small and mid-cap Hong Kong and Chinese companies and, according to Metcalfe, it has more such mandates in the pipeline.