Sherry Liu cut as Jefferies axe falls again

The redundancies, which also included Ren Wang, are part of a wider restructuring away from chasing low-fee SOE restructuring deals.

Jefferies has let go more investment bankers in Asia, including regional chairman Sherry Liu, as part of a wider restructuring of the firm to focus on more profitable advisory work, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Another high-profile name to go was Ren Wang, who Jefferies poached from UBS in 2011, one of the people said.

The New York-headquartered bank also laid off just under 20 people in cash equities, or 5% of the team in Asia, late last week, they said.

A spokesman for Jefferies declined to comment on the job cuts. 

The US investment bank's advisory, trading, and research teams across Asia are to concentrate their efforts on sectors where Jefferies has an edge globally: technology, healthcare, consumer, and power. At the same time its investment bankers are moving away from chasing mandates to help China’s sprawling state-owned entities restructure towards cross-border M&A and equity capital raising, the people familiar with the matter said.

The fees associated with government advisory work in mainland China have been thin and split between numerous banks, many investment banks have found.

Jefferies’s management structure in Japan, Singapore, and India is unaffected by the restructuring drive, the people familiar with the matter told FinanceAsia.

Liu had a dual role at Jefferies as chairman of Asia and vice-chairman of global investment banking.
She has more than 21 years of investment banking experience, particularly in China where she has long-standing relationships with state-owned companies and business leaders.

Jefferies hired Liu in 2012 from Royal Bank of Scotland, where she was former chairman and chief executive officer for China. 

Before joining RBS in April 2010 Liu spent seven years at JP Morgan as vice-chairman for China and chairman of China financial institutions. Before that she was head of China investment banking at both Lehman Brothers and CLSA.

In 2011 she was named by FinanceAsia as one of the top 20 Women in Finance in Asia.

Liu brought with her to Jefferies two other people from her team at RBS: Qing Zhu, who took on the role as head of Asia power and utilities investment banking, and Charles Zhou, who joined as a senior China coverage officer within investment banking. 

Efforts to contact Liu on Tuesday were unsuccessful. 

Retreat

Jefferies expanded rapidly in Asia between 2011 and 2012. It had more than 30 investment bankers in Asia in 2012, of which nine were managing directors. 

 
Sherry Liu

However, China dealmaking has yielded thin returns and competition is intense.

 Other banks have also pulled back in recent years including Barclays, Standard Chartered, and Macquarie. 

Costs at investment banks globally are under pressure after a drop in fixed income trading across 2015. Jefferies, which is owned by Leucadia National Corp., unveiled a fall in fixed income trading revenue in the fourth quarter last week. 

Several other senior bankers left Jefferies in a separate round of cost cuts in July, including Ronald Tam, erstwhile head of corporate finance for Asia, Katherine Huang, a senior vice president, plus Michael Sun and Jeff Na, who were both vice presidents. 

Other departures in March from Jefferies's Hong Kong office include Dai Qiang, yet another ex-UBS banker who worked as managing director for telecommunications, media, and technology, Richard Yang, previously managing director and co-head of Asia healthcare and consumer, and senior vice president Terry Zhi.

Jefferies's Asia head of debt capital markets and leveraged finance, Augusto King, joined MUFG’s securities arm as its head of DCM in Asia Pacific excluding Japan.

The US bank has nonetheless continued to make deals.

Jefferies advised US insurer Fidelity & Guaranty Life on its acquisition by Beijing-based privately owned Anbang Insurance for $1.57 billion earlier this year. In equity capital markets it has also worked this year on deals by China Huarong Asset Management, China Reinsurance, and China Biologic. 

This article was updated on December 23 to include news of Ren Wang's departure

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