Trainor changes roles at Merrill Lynch

Sheldon Trainor steps away from the day-to-day running of the investment banking business in Asia to become vice-chairman with a focus on origination and client contacts.
Sheldon Trainor has given up his position as head of Asia investment banking at Merrill Lynch and the day-to-day running of the division to focus on originating deals and managing client relationships.

The change in roles is largely a formalisation of something that has already been happening informally over the past 18 months or so, the source says. Trainor has assumed the title of vice-chairman in investment banking and his focus will be on Asia ex-Japan and Australia. He will continue to report to Damian Chunilal, who is head of Pacific Rim origination.

Trainor was hired by Chunilal to head up the investment banking team in Asia and joined Merrill in June 2005 after 11 years at Morgan Stanley. The fact that he is now relinquishing the day-to-day job related to this role, the responsibility of which will fall on Chunilal, will free him up to do what he is best at, namely to generate deals and dealing with clients. He will focus in particular on the structured-type transactions which are targeted at hedge funds and where Merrill has from time to time co-invested alongside its buy-side clients, such as the deals it did for Asia Aluminum and Berau Coal. The idea is that he will in time be able to generate more direct principal investment opportunities for the bank. At the same time, the ôrestructuringö will make the most of ChunilalÆs skills as a manager.

In a way, this gives Trainor a role not too dissimilar to that of Erh-Fei Liu, MerrillÆs China chairman, who is also focusing on origination and client contacts, albeit with a lean towards private equity rather than principal investing.

The move suggests that Merrill is putting more focus on the M&A side of the business, which is the part of investment banking that has been thriving this year while the equity and debt capital markets have both come to a virtual standstill. According to Dealogic, a total of $374 billion worth of M&A deals has been announced in Asia-Pacific this year, which is on par with last yearÆs volumes. By comparison, ECM and DCM volumes are both down sharply.

Merrill tops the league table for announced M&A transactions in the region with close to $68 billion and 35 deals.

Trainor, a Canadian, has a background within general industries and spent his last four years at Morgan Stanley as head of the general industries group in the region. He came to Asia with Morgan Stanley in 1994 as an associate in the investment banking division and helped the then Asia chairman Jack Wadsworth to set up the joint venture with China International Capital Corp. Before that he worked with Credit Suisse First Boston in Australia.

Trainor wasnÆt reachable and Merrill Lynch declined to comment on the move.
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