UBS makes Chee sole head of GCM, promotes Kendall

John Sturmey gives up his co-head of Asia GCM role less than a year after returning to UBS, as the bank's new global head of GCM David Soanes puts his mark on the team.
Joseph Chee becomes sole head of GCM.
Joseph Chee becomes sole head of GCM.

UBS has made some further leadership changes in its capital markets team in Asia that makes Joseph Chee the sole head of global capital markets (GCM) in the region and promotes Sam Kendall to head of equity capital markets (ECM). Kendall was previously head of equity syndicate for Asia.

The changes mean that John Sturmey is stepping down from his role as co-head of GCM, which he has shared with Chee since the middle of last year. According to an internal memo, a further announcement will be made in due course and sources said Sturmey is currently discussing his future role with the bank.

Sturmey was brought back to UBS after a couple of years with ABN AMRO/Royal Bank of Scotland specifically to become co-head of GCM, so the fact that he is leaving the job this soon is surprising.

However, the reshuffle in Asia comes a couple of weeks after David Soanes was named the new global head of GCM following Matthew Koder’s departure. It seems Soanes is now shaping his own team across the different regions and is looking to streamline the leadership structure with one person in charge of, and accountable for, each division. Chee will report to Soanes.

Also part of the capital markets leadership trio in Asia is Guy Wylie, who is head of debt capital markets (DCM). He is also reporting to Chee and will join Chee and Kendall on the GCM management committee.

Sam Kendall

Kendall’s new role will make him ultimately responsible for ECM origination, as well as equity syndicate. Stuart Mackay, who is head of ECM origination, will report to Kendall. UBS has not had a head of ECM since Mark Williams left the bank in May last year to join Nomura, but rather Kendall and Mackay have both reported directly to the head of GCM.

Kendall will continue to report to Chee and will retain his role as global head of blocks.

For now, Kendall will also continue to lead the equity syndicate, although insiders say the plan is to eventually hire a new head of syndicate. However, the desk has suffered a couple of departures in the past month, with Steve Lam and Harish Raman both resigning to join the equity syndicate at Citi in a few months, and keeping Kendall in charge for now will provide some continuity while the new hires settle in.

However, UBS doesn’t view these latest departures as damaging to its franchise in any way, but rather as part of the continuous rotation of bankers among the major firms in Asia that gathers pace at this time of year after the annual bonuses have been paid. Lam had worked with UBS for three-and-a-half years and Raman had been with the bank for five years.

UBS has already filled the vacancy left by Lam with the re-hire of Chris Lau, who has previously worked within the bank’s ECM teams in Hong Kong and Australia. He left UBS a couple of years ago to become a proprietary trader at a small Australian firm, but has been looking to return both to investment banking and to Hong Kong. Lau will be coming on board at the beginning of May and will join a syndicate desk that also includes Hannah Malter, Philip Wong and Ada Watt.

The bank has also transferred Thomas Batt from London to take over Raman’s responsibilities as head of equity-linked origination in Asia. However, Raman’s dual role on the equity syndicate desk, focusing on India, remains empty for now.

Batt, who has already started his new job in Hong Kong, will be in charge of equity-linked and equity derivative origination for Asia excluding Greater China and will be part of the strategic equity solutions group. He will report to Michel Lee, who is head of strategic equity solutions in Asia. Batt joined UBS in 2005 in the general industries group (GIG), but for the past three-and-a-half years he has been focusing on equity-linked and derivatives in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea).

UBS has suffered quite a few departures from GCM and investment banking during the past 12 months and, while the bank has kept a brave face, there is no question that it has taken a toll on its business. On the equity side, the bank was absent from some of the key IPOs last year, including Agricultural Bank of China’s $22.1 billion dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai. It also missed out on one of the leading global coordinator roles on AIA’s $20.5 billion IPO.

That said, the bank continued to churn out other deals and at the end of last year it was second in Dealogic’s ECM league table for Asia. Rival bankers have also said that the strength of UBS’s franchise will win out in the end and that the bank will bounce back from the loss of these bankers. This year, the Swiss bank is said to have some 50 deals in its equity pipeline.

In the internal memo, Soanes said that Chee, Wylie and Kendall, together with Asia GCM chairman Peter Burnett, provide the leadership needed to ensure UBS retains its position as “the top capital markets and investment banking franchise in the region”.

Soanes is based in London and has broad experience across ECM, DCM, financial institutions and liability products. He has been with UBS for about 20 years and is known as a strong client banker.

Sturmey spent more than 10 years with UBS before he left in 2008 to join ABN Amro as head of ECM for Asia. At the time, ABN was already in the process of being integrated into Royal Bank of Scotland. Once that was completed, Sturmey took on the same role at RBS. At UBS, he was a managing director and head of equity syndicate for Asia between 2004 and 2008 and helped build the bank’s ECM franchise into a powerhouse that has featured in the top two in Dealogic’s ECM league tables for Asia ex-Japan in each of the past six years.

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