The Class of 2000 -- where are they now? Part 4

From ING Barings to UBS Warburg, we complete our look at how the past decade has treated the region's top equity capital markets bankers.



Paul Kelly

ING BARINGS - Craig Duffy and Paul Kelly

Co-heads of Asia equity capital markets, Hong Kong

Now: Head of Asia equity origination, Citi, Hong Kong (Crig) and Gardener and Shopkeeper, Aubeterre, France (Paul)

Paul Kelly has no regrets about leaving the financial markets. He handed his notice in, as he always said he would, on the day he woke up and dreaded going into work -- one day in Hong Kong shortly before Christmas 2002. Since then he has built what can only be described as a bucolic life for himself, his wife and his twin boys in France. The boys attend a school of only 16 children and his wife Eve runs a small shop in the South Charente stocked with interior decorations she collects on her global travels.

"I'm writing this sitting in our little shop (no "8" of course) overlooking a beautiful square in an exceedingly pretty little village," he said. "It's very calm and blissfully quiet after the madness of Hong Kong. And if I'm not in the shop, you'll find me in our enormous garden, tending to the flowers, shrubs and my five vegetable patches. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase gardening leave, though mine's permanent."

But he remains an avid reader of the financial press and lists finance at number three among his hobbies, behind gardening and enjoying the fine wine collection he stores in a specially designed wine room converted from an old stable in the courtyard of his maison de maitre.

"I do miss Hong Kong," he added. "It was a great place to live and work and I spent 13 wonderful years at Barings, later ING."

And his favourite deal? He cites an $800 million government sell-down in Korean electricity company, Kepco. "It was one of the deals which helped re-open the Asian equity markets after the crisis," he recalled. "It was an important deal, extremely well received, priced around parity and traded up, so everyone was happy."





Craig Duffy

Craig Duffy

One thing that Craig Duffy shares in common with his long-term friend and former colleague is an extremely dry wit. When asked how long he's now been at Citigroup, his reply is, "seven years, though it feels like 20."

"Actually I lie," he added. "I still love doing deals and I love doing deals in Asia. There are nine different markets here and each deal is that little bit different from the next. It doesn't feel like New York or London where it's more of a cookie cutter approach."

And he attributes the same rationale to life in Asia as well. "The way we live and work here is different too," he said. "When people leave the office in New York, they shut the door on work. Here work and pleasure are mixed together and it helps keep life interesting."

A long-term Asian resident, Duffy arrived in the region in the mid-1990s and joined Citigroup towards the end of 2003. He cites Maxis as his favourite IPO from his time at ING Barings and Indika Energy's while at Citi, plus the equity-linked deals he's done for Tata Motors, Larsen & Toubro and Singapore's Ascendas Reit.

"Tata Motors is a client we've done multiple convertibles for," he said. "I really enjoy working with Indian clients. They're sharp, intelligent and sophisticated."

And he agrees with what everyone else on this list also says: Asia is now a big revenue earner for banks' global P&Ls. "That's what has changed over the past decade," he asserted. "Everyone is moving more people here. It's where the growth is."


Head of Asia equity capital markets, Hong Kong

Now: Head of technology equity capital markets, Barclays Capital, California

Will Bowmer is the man who led the IPO for Chinadotcom, whose equity investment in FinanceAsia enabled us to create the website you're reading today. As one of the foremost ECM bankers in Asia during the late 1999s, Bowmer was right at the heart of the tech boom and 10 years on, he still can't quite believe the heights to which it briefly soared. "Chinadotcom's $500 million Nasdaq listing was the deal which really kicked off the trend," he commented. "By the end, even solid conglomerates like Cheung Kong got caught up in it -- creating and then spinning off companies like"

But it is his work in Taiwan, which he remembers most vividly. Particularly UMC (United Microelectronics Corp), for which Lehman was practically the house bank. "I feel very proud of all the deals we did for them," he reflected. "It was great helping them to finance their move up the technological curve to become a global leader in the semiconductor industry."

Bowmer first arrived in Asia in 1990 and after a brief stint as a lawyer, became an investment banker in 1994, joining Lehman in 1997. "There were a lot of firsts back then," he continued. "I worked on the first convertible out of Thailand and the first out of Indonesia. The markets had a very different feel back then."

And while he loves being based in Menlo Park, he still comes back to Asia once a quarter. "What I really love about this region is the friendships you make," he said. "I don't know whether it's the constant travel, but you become much closer to your work colleagues here and there's a great sense of camaraderie."

And he feels the business has shifted. "These days, 90% of my travel is to China. It was never like that before. But I guess we're all following the capital flows."


Co-Head Asia investment banking and head of Asia equity capital markets, Hong Kong



Now: Private equity investor, London

Meeting Aj Rahman for coffee in the London "village" of Barnes where we both now live, feels a world removed from Hong Kong where we both once lived. 

Rahman says his life has more balance now, though it still involves a lot of travel overseeing the 15 companies in which he's now invested.

"Being a private equity investor gives you a totally different perspective on how businesses work," he explained. "You very quickly learn to spot which management teams have what it takes." Key, he said, is a great idea and flexibility in executing it. "The path to success is rarely what was envisaged in the original business plan."

Most of his investments are in the US and include Rainbow Rewards, a merchant funded customer card loyalty programme; Oneworld Energy, a Canadian wind and solar power producer and operator;, a music comparison site that's partnered with MTV; and Spatial View, a company that makes 3D covers for laptop computers enabling users to immerse themselves in 3D games.

It's a big departure for a man who had previously spent his entire career at Merrill Lynch. He joined from university and sat on the bank's Asia ECM desk in London before moving to Hong Kong and taking over as head of Asia ECM in the mid-1990s.

"When you think of all the deals we did a decade or so ago, it was just the beginning for China," he said. "In fact even five years ago, it was still the beginning. There are still huge volumes to happen from that market."

One of the high points of his time in Hong Kong was the $3 billion exchangeable Merrill Lynch executed for Hutchison Whampoa in 2000. The deal was awarded by FinanceAsia as the Equity-Linked Deal of the Year and it netted the bank $50 million in gross fees.

The low point was Sars. "It was a tough time," he recalled. "People forget just how unsettling it was. We were lucky. It could have gone on for months, or repeatedly flared up over a number of years."

This article continues on page two.

MORGAN STANLEY - Colin Stewart

Head of Asia equity capital markets, Hong Kong

Now: Vice-chairman, global capital markets, Morgan Stanley, California

Colin Stewart says Asia has played a pivotal role in his life. And in return, he too played a key role in the development of China's capital markets as deputy CEO at China International Capital Corp from 1996 to 1997.

While seconded to CICC, he helped execute the $4.2 billion IPO for China Mobile in 1997. After returning to Morgan Stanley, the Mandarin speaker was also instrumental in bringing two of China's most transformational IPOs to market -- the $5.65 billion flotation of China Unicom and the $3.5 billion IPO of Sinopec, not to mention the preparatory work he completed on the $1.4 billion flotation of China Telecom, which listed at the end of 2001, shortly after he left for the US.

And at the other end of the size scale he also cites the $78 million IPO for in April 2000 as one of his favourite deals.

"It was the first internet IPO," he recalled, "and one of the first high-profile, private, venture capital-backed IPO's from China. Its success and durability has helped pave the way for the likes of, Tencent, and others that have still yet to go public."

Stewart has spent the past nine years at Menlo Park concentrating on the tech sector, but still keeps a close eye on Asia and believes the changes in the breadth, depth and scale of market liquidity over the past 10 years has been stunning. "Numerous Asian companies are now among the world's largest and most successful," he elaborated. "The fact that many Asian companies have truly global consumer brands (Lenovo, Acer, LG, Samsung, Hyundai Motor etcetera) speaks to the quality, engineering and technology of their products. It also highlights the power of the region as a producer and consumer."

On a personal level he says he feels incredibly fortunate and grateful to have spent 10 years in Asia, first as a student in Taipei and later working in Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing.

"I truly believe I wouldn't have had as interesting, challenging, rewarding and successful a career in investment banking and capital markets without my experience in Asia."


Head of Asia equity capital markets, Hong Kong

Now: Head of Middle Eastern investment banking, Nomura, Dubai

It's a sense of deja vu for Scott Ferguson. Dubai in 2010, he says, reminds him of Thailand in 2009.  "I came to Asia at the bottom of the financial crisis and all the challenges I faced then are the same ones I'm trying to deal with now -- a real estate market that went crazy and a market that suspects banks have significant non-performing loan growth in their future."

If anyone is well equipped to come up with the right solutions then, it's the down to earth and hardworking Scot, who made his name pioneering equity re-capitalisations for the likes of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines and Thailand's Siam Commercial Bank in 1999, followed by Korean semiconductor company Hynix two years later in June 2001. The latter's $1.25 billion GDR was a particularly critical transaction for Korea and provided a template for the re-modelling of the Chaebol sector as it moved away from family ownership to a shareholding structure tilted towards institutional investors.

"All these deals were about getting the market comfortable with the fact that there was a viable and investable company still in there," he explained.

After four years as head of Asia equity capital markets, Ferguson left the region in mid-2002 to go on a one-year sabbatical, before returning to London and a job with Lehman Bros. He moved to Dubai in December 2008, but like many of the bankers on this list, he still maintains strong links with Asia. His wife is Thai and he says he's back about six times year.

One thing he has been happy to vacate, however, is seat 14K on Cathay Pacific. "I love Asia's diversity, but the travel could get very wearing. It would be Bangkok on Monday, then Malaysia Tuesday, Wednesday Taipei, Thursday Seoul and finally Friday Beijing."

UBS WARBURG - Colin West

Head of Asia equity capital markets, Singapore

Now: Director, Bordeaux Index, London

The man known to his colleagues as the silver fox was always considered a gentleman of the courteous and considered school of banking. He was also the only ECM head on this list to be based in Singapore, where he arrived in 1994 to head up investment banking in the Lion City -- though his main business base was in Hong Kong, as was the rest of the team.

After 2000, he also took on the regional ECM franchise and developed a thriving business in the wake of the bank's merger with SBC. "The early part of the decade was an incredibly exciting time in Asian ECM," he reflected. "And at UBS there was a real sense that we were building the foundations of a market-leading ECM business as UBS established itself as a top player for the first time."

For most outsiders, the team's crowning glory would have been the IPO for Bank of China (Hong Kong) in June 2002. It was the first big China mandate the team had won and the first global offering by a Chinese financial institution. West says it was one of the most memorable pricing meetings ever -- allocating a $19 billion order book to fit a $2.67 billion deal.

However, the deal he feels most proud of is the Singapore Post IPO, which was completed at the height of Sars in 2003. "Competitors thought we were mad to attempt it," he recollected. "The whole global roadshow had to be done by video conference from Singapore because no-one was able to travel."

This was also to be West's last major deal before he moved back to London with UBS, staying on until 2005 when he became head of European ECM at Macquarie. In the past few years, however, West has returned to his first big love -- Bordeaux wines. He's now a director and shareholder at Bordeaux Index, one of the largest and fastest growing fine wine merchants, based in London and Hong Kong. "A number of my ex-colleagues and clients are now customers and it means I'm still involved in the region, albeit in a different capacity," he added.

He concluded that the region has matured considerably since he left. "Most of the deals in the early 2000s were fully-marketed IPOs and follow-ons. Now, block trades and accelerated placings are a much bigger share of the market," he said. 

This is the fourth and final part of a four-part series. If you missed the early articles, please see our archives. 

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