Standard Chartered hires ex-UBS syndicate banker

Samuel Chan joins the Asia debt syndicate desk at Standard Chartered as the bank continues to increase its footprint in the region.

Standard Chartered Bank has hired former UBS syndicate banker Samuel Chan as it beefs up the numbers on its own bond syndicate desk, according to an announcement this week. Chan, who joins as a director based in Singapore, has already started his new job and will be working closely with and reporting to Jujhar Singh, head of Asia debt syndicate.

Chan brings with him the experience of having worked with some of the most highly regarded debt syndicate bankers in Asia during his time at UBS, including: Mark Leahy, who subsequently went to Deutsche Bank and is currently taking a break from investment banking; and Cristian Jonsson, who moved to a new role within UBS in September 2007. Since then, Chan had been working under Fergus Edwards, who is now running UBS's debt syndicate as a one-man team.

Chan left UBS in mid-February as part of the ongoing retrenchments at the firm, with sources saying that he volunteered to go once it became clear that the bank was looking to eliminate one of the two positions on the syndicate desk.

Standard Chartered is active in both G3 and local currency bonds, but its main strength is in local currency paper where it has been able to leverage its on-the-ground presence to become a key competitor to HSBC over the past few years. This is also an area which continues to see a lot of issuance activity despite the ongoing downturn.

Chan is joining a firm which, contrary to most other international investment banks in Asia, is still hiring. Sources say the UK-headquartered bank, which gets most of its revenues from Asia, is targeting key individuals who are being laid off from other banks or who are looking for a new challenge and are attracted to the possibility of working at a bank that still has a strong balance sheet to back up its business -- possibly they are also drawn to the fact that Standard Chartered is able to offer more money than their old firms, which have become subject to stricter compensation guidelines as part of their acceptance of government bailout money.

These observations are exemplified by a series of hiring announcements by Standard Chartered in Asia over the past six months. Last month it poached convertible bond specialist Ronnie Potel from Citi to head its equity-linked origination team; in January it hired 15-year Rabobank veteran Nelson Batubara as its new head of commodity trading and agribusiness in Indonesia; in October last year it brought on board Christian Wait from Lehman Brothers in New York as its new global head of capital markets; and a month before that it hired Vinod Aachi from Deutsche Bank to take on a newly created position as global head of structuring, and Vincent Van Pelt from Bear Stearns in London to become global head of equity derivatives and commodities.

In November last year, Standard Chartered also acquired Cazenove Asia with the aim of leveraging the UK firm's equity financing and execution abilities to strengthen its own equity capital markets business.

Standard Chartered's ability to weather the current downturn was put in black and white with the release of its 2008 earnings last week, which showed a 26% improvement in revenues and a 13% rise in net profit. 

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