UBS brings back Peter Burnett as GCM chairman for Asia

Burnett, who has spent more than 15 years with UBS in Asia, including a six-year stint as co-head of investment banking, rejoins the firm only days after Steven Barg's resignation as head of GCM.

Asia veteran Peter Burnett is returning to the region to take up a new role as chairman of global capital markets (GCM) for Asia at UBS, according to sources. Burnett has a more than 20-year career with UBS, of which he has spent more than 15 years in Asia, but has had a break away from the industry for the past six months or so.

He is returning to UBS and Asia at a time when the bank has just lost two senior bankers in the region and his experience will be a welcome addition to the team. However, the sources stressed that he is not hired to fill the position left open by former head of GCM Steven Barg, who resigned last week to join Goldman Sachs as co-head of equity capital markets for Asia ex-Japan. In fact, Burnett's re-hire and appointment as chairman of GCM for the region was in the works well before the bank knew about the recent departures. Aside from Barg, former head of equity capital markets for Asia, Mark Williams, also left the firm earlier this month to become head of ECM for Asia ex-Japan at Nomura.

As chairman, Burnett will be focusing on client marketing and relationship building, as well as the positioning of the bank overall. And having been co-head of the firm's investment banking business in Asia from 2000 to 2006, first together with Mark Dowie and then with Robert Rankin he is by no means starting from scratch when it comes to client relationships. Before stepping up to the investment banking role, he was also head of Asia ECM from 1995 to 1999. GCM incorporates both equity and debt capital markets.

Between 2006 and 2009 he was CEO and chairman of the bank's Middle East and North Africa business, which saw him continue to work a lot with his colleagues in Asia to tap the synergies between the two regions.

While his appointment wasn't initially intended to fill a gap, the timing of Burnett's return so soon after Barg's resignation is fortunate for UBS and will help support the message from insiders that the departure even of two senior bankers in short succession doesn't derail the day-to-day business at the firm. It also underlines the fact that the bank has a deep bench of bankers from which to find replacements, even though in this case Burnett had been away from the industry for a short while.

One source said yesterday that the bank still intends to fill the head of GCM position, but is in no hurry to do so as the ECM and DCM business is already run by a strong line-up of bankers. Earlier this month, to fill the gap left vacant by the departure of Mark Williams, UBS moved Stuart Mackay into a new role as head of ECM origination for Asia excluding China, and brought Sam Kendall back from London to replace Mackay as head of equity syndicate for Asia. Meanwhile, Joseph Chee continues in his role as head of China GCM, while Guy Wylie runs an expanded Asia DCM platform that includes investment-grade and high-yield bonds, special-situations finance, leveraged finance, ratings advisory and corporate derivatives.

All four of them report to Matthew Koder who is global head of GCM. Koder is based in London, but spends about half his time in Asia. Burnett will also report to Koder.

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