Welch retires

StanChart's Tom Welch steps down

Veteran banker Tom Welch retires as global head of equity syndicate after four years with Standard Chartered.
Tom Welch, the Hong Kong-based global head of equity syndicate, has retired from Standard Chartered just as the top management of the troubled UK lender face increased scrutiny from investors.  
 
Welch joined Standard Chartered from Deutsche Bank in July 2010 as global head of cash equity sales before moving to his syndicate role in September last year. He replaced Natalie Brink who was promoted to global head of equity corporate management.
 
Welch’s departure after more than 20 years as a banker was announced to Standard Chartered staff on October 31.
 
A former colleague said the move had been expected and the transition process was well-prepared. He added that suggestions that Welch was permanently retiring from the industry were premature. For the time being he is taking a “well-deserved break in his career,” a source familiar with the situation said.
 
Welch was head of research sales for Asia, ex-Japan, at Deutsche Bank. His career also included long spells in equity sales at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.
 
Karoonyavanich steps up
 
Anuruk (“Art”) Karoonyavanich is Standard Chartered’s new global head of equity syndicate and will report, as Welch did, to A. Rajagopal, the bank's global head of equity capital markets. 
 
Previously Karoonyavanich was Standard Chartered's head of ECM, Southeast Asia, and based in Singapore.
 
Prior to that role he was Nomura’s head of ECM, Southeast Asia, from 2008 to 2011. He also held several positions at Lehman Brothers between 1999 and 2008 in Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore, where his final job was head of ECM, Southeast Asia.
 
Karoonyavanich (pictured below) has been closely involved in several significant ECM deals in the past year, including Frasers Hospitality Trust's initial public offering in June, Suntec's share placement in March and the OUE Commercial REIT IPO at the beginning of the year.
 
In addition, he worked on the syndication of the UMW Oil and Gas (Malaysia) IPO in October, the True Telecom Growth Infrastructure Fund (Thailand) IPO in December 2013 and the Manila Electric (Philippines) placement in July last year.
 
However, Standard Chartered has struggled to maintain the momentum it built up in the ECM business in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, when its relatively solid balance sheet gave it an edge over weaker banks still licking their wounds.
 
In 2010 it was ranked 36th for global ECM transactions but in the year-to-end-September it slumped to 51st in the league table, participating as bookrunner in only 21 deals worth $1.84 billion, equivalent to just 0.2% of total volumes, according to Dealogic data.
 
Its share of ECM activity in Asia is stronger – currently ranked 21st for the same period – but still not among the major players, Dealogic data shows.
 
On the other hand, Standard Chartered is a top-10 bookrunner for debt capital market deals in Asia and has a substantial niche presence in several emerging countries within the region, arranging local currency denominated bond placements.
 
Mounting pressure
 
For the bank as a whole it's been a tough 2014. Standard Chartered’s chief executive Peter Sands and chairman Sir John Peace are under mounting pressure as the bank recoils from a mix of scandal and weak earnings.
 
The bank’s share price plunged by around 16% last week and has dropped 31% since the start of the year.
 
Its third-quarter pretax profits fell 16% from a year earlier and its second half is expected to show further declines as the bank is forced to pay escalating regulatory, legal and compliance costs.
 
Worsening the management’s headaches, U.S. prosecutors have reopened investigations to decide whether the bank withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations, according to Bloomberg. 
 
Standard Chartered agreed in August 2012 to pay $340 million to the New York Department of Financial Services for its role in disguising the identity of Iranian clients in billions of dollars of wire transfers.
 
Sands will meet the bank’s investors in Hong Kong this month, where he is expected to face questions about the bank's strategy and capital position.
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