Since the beginning of August, Samsung Securities’ Hong Kong operation has been on an aggressive recruitment drive. It has increased its headcount in equity research and sales to 50 in recent weeks, and its total numbers to 100, compared with just 22 when it formally opened its Hong Kong office in August 2009. Further recruitment will continue until early November.
The regional arm of Korea’s leading securities firm, called Samsung Securities International (Samsung), hired Sung June Hwang as chief executive officer earlier this month to drive its expansion. Hwang was previously head of non-Japan equities and head of Asia-Pacific equities distribution at Credit Suisse.
The recent appointments have focused on building Samsung’s research capability, with the aim of attracting both brokerage business and new issue mandates in Hong Kong and mainland China.
The firm now has 26 analysts and 15 research assistants on board, who between them cover the major market sectors: property, technology, energy, consumer services, commodities and basic materials, and financials. In addition to these areas where Samsung believes it now has “critical mass”, analysts also cover transport, autos and telecommunications.
“These appointments demonstrate Samsung’s commitment to building a regional equities platform,” said Hwang.
Some of the analysts have arrived with particularly strong reputations. For instance, Wee Liat Lee has joined as managing director for regional property after a career at several front-line banks. Henik Fung, who has come on board as managing director for oil and gas, has a similar pedigree. Meanwhile, Sandra Cai, managing director for Chinese banks, is considered a rising star.
“This is the first wave of regional hires. We expect to go onshore in Taiwan in the first half of 2010 and in India in the second half of 2011 which will constitute the second major ramp-up in growing the regional platform. The five-year goal is to build a top three-to-five regional equity client franchise,” said Hwang.
Samsung’s research effort is supported by five generalist sales people, three Hong Kong/China specialists and two Korea specialists servicing institutional investors in Hong Kong. Three generalist sales people will soon be working out of the firm’s Singapore office and Samsung has hired four generalist salespeople in New York and three in London.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Paul Chong heads up investment banking and principal investments. An industry veteran, whose previous employers include Goldman Sachs and Macquarie -- his most recent employer, where he also held the position of managing director of investment banking and principal investments -- Chong has already been responsible for winning IPO mandates and secondary placements from several Hong Kong and Chinese mid-cap companies, such as Schramm, Midea Group and Sino Prosper State Gold.
Samsung Securities has an objective to be a major player throughout Asia by 2015, and to be a “global top-10” by 2020. Hong Kong is clearly the launch pad for its international ambitions.