UBS moves 20 off China, IB teams

The Swiss bank shuffles staff in Hong Kong in a reorganisation that may indicate a reduced focus on China. There is no indication yet of a link to a regulator's investigation.

UBS is reorganising its Hong Kong-based corporate finance group (CFG) – essentially its investment banking unit – and moving some junior bankers from its China-focused country team, according to an internal memo distributed today and seen by FinanceAsia.

Around 20 bankers from the two teams are affected by the reorganisation. They will move to sector teams such as the financial institutions group (FIG), all industries group (AIG), and the consumers products and retail group.

The moves come as Hong Kong's securities regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), investigates the bank's role as a sponsor of one or more IPOs in the city.

Patrick Tsang, managing director and head of CFG execution team, will continue to lead the team according to the note, which was signed by Sam Kendall, head of corporate client solutions (CCS), Asia Pacific, and Joseph Chee, head of CCS Asia.

About half of the staff on the move are from the China team, according to a person familiar with the matter. The changes come as multinational corporations struggle to establish a profitable presence in the world's second largest economy.

Individual discussions with bankers on the China teams have been taking place since last week, according to the source.

It was not immediately clear whether the reorganisation had anything to do with the SFC probe, which was announced late last month. The investigation could potentially culminate with the Swiss bank being stripped of a licence that allows it to sponsor Hong Kong listings and advise on mergers and acquisitions.

According to the memo from Kendall and Chee, the Swiss bank would continue to “pool junior resources across [its] Asian capital markets team” going forward, spreading product expertise across all teams rather than adding headcount to debt or equity specifically.

“Our clients are no longer users of just one product, nor are they focused on one geography. By implementing these changes, we will increase connectivity…and respond to client needs in a seamless and globally coordinated manner,” the pair wrote.

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