Slaughter to the lambs: Citi man joins Brexit trade team

UK Department of International Trade hires former Asia-based banker Mark Slaughter to entice investors. He'll help Britain with the challenges of being a small player on the world stage.
Mark Slaughter (second left) with new colleagues at Britain's trade ministry
Mark Slaughter (second left) with new colleagues at Britain's trade ministry

It's a time of unprecedented challenges for Britain. The nation of 65 million people is 10 months away from exiting the European Union, and claims by supporters of the so-called 'Brexit' that the island state can stand as a major player on the international trade stage will soon be put to the test.

The British government is building a team to take on that monumental challenge, and announced on Thursday that high-profile Citi banker Mark Slaughter would be taking on a key role — bringing foreign investment to Britain. 

Slaughter is a well-known name in Asia's financial industry. The American spent four years as head of corporate and investment banking for Citi, before returning to New York in April to become vice-chairman of corporate and investment banking 

He will take up his new role as director general for investment at Britain's Department for International Trade on June 20, working alongside Minister for Investment Graham Stuart MP.

The appointment of a banker with a background in Asia, as well as the United States, perhaps hints at where Britain sees potential outside the European Union. China in particular is already a heavy investor in British assets — from football clubs to technology firms — though not all of those deals have won favour with Beijing.

"The key thing is that we communicate well all the opportunities that the UK has to offer," Slaughter told FinanceAsia on Thursday while waiting for his train in Britain.

"Not least it’s a very stable environment with the rule of law and a place where people like to work and a workforce that is well educated and capable," he added.

“DIT is building relationships with the world’s biggest investors, from sovereign wealth and pension funds, to global real estate developers," Stuart said in the statement. "Mark will ensure that this work is accelerated and our foreign direct investment offer strengthened.”

“Someone of Mark’s calibre, with extensive experience in Asia and the US, will be an invaluable asset to my international economic department,” International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox MP said in the statement.

Slaughter is the second leading banker to join the DIT in recent weeks.

Ex Barclays and JP Morgan banker John Mahon joined as director general for exports on April 23.

As the UK’s deadline for leaving the EU draws ever closer, preparing for the next chapter in the UK’s economy is clearly on the minds of Ministers.

And Slaughter is is keenly aware of the challenge ahead of him.

"I felt now was the time to take on a new challenge - a challenge that will have an impact on the UK and the global economy for decades to come," he said in the statement from the DIT.

Slaughter has enjoyed a stellar career in Wall Street, London and Hong Kong. A Harvard educated lawyer who started his career as a nuclear scientist, Slaughter spent 20 years at Goldman Sachs, rising to chief operating officer for Goldman Sachs International between 2000 and 2005.

He also served as a non-executive director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority between 2005 and 2010. 

In 2005 he joined Citi as chief operating officer of global investment banking, before a short stint as chief administration officer for private equity group Investcorp.

He returned to Citi in 2011 as head of human capital before re-joining the corporate and investment banking division in 2013, becoming its head in 2014.

According to a Citi spokesperson Citi, Slaughter was highly regarded for his efforts in harmonising the corporate and investment banking divisions under the one roof.

“He will be missed” the spokesperson added.

Slaughter joins a growing number of Asia-focused bankers to opt for a new career outside the industry. 

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