Sam Kendall, the head of Asia equity capital markets at UBS, has been promoted to global head of ECM, making him the first global ECM head at a bulge-bracket firm to be based in Asia.
The appointment, which was announced just before Christmas, comes after a highly successful year for the Swiss bank in Asia ECM, during which it executed almost 30% more deals than its closest competitor and, according to the internal announcement, generated 80% more revenues than in 2011 — despite the fact that the overall ECM fee pool was down 20%.
FinanceAsia recognised the strong performance by naming UBS the best equity house in the region in 2012.
A key reason for the improvement in revenues is that the bank decided to rip up the old playbook and become more innovative and proactive when it comes to providing solutions for clients. In the past year this has been noticeable partly through a greater number of privately negotiated block trades and club-style deals that have helped to put some margin back into the business, as well as out-of-the-box thinking in terms of how to source deals and when to execute them in order to achieve the desired outcome for the issuer or seller. In the announcement, the bank referred to this as having a greater focus on “non-vanilla revenues”.
Kendall has played a key role in the firm’s move in this direction, and no doubt his bosses are now hoping that he will be able to do the same in Europe and the US to help the bank move up the ECM league tables in these markets too. However, UBS’s footprint in these other regions is significantly smaller than in Asia to start with.
While UBS was the number one bank in Asia ex-Japan for overall ECM during 2012, according to Dealogic data, it ranked ninth in the US and sixth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea). However, it did clinch the top position for IPOs in Emea.
Kendall has been head of ECM in Asia since April 2011 when the firm streamlined its leadership within debt and equity capital markets in the region. Since he took over, UBS has more than doubled its market share for overall ECM in the region to 9%, although some of that improvement is due to the recovery from the issues that have plagued it worldwide during the past three years.
Kendall will retain his job as head of Asia ECM alongside his new global role and will also continue to be based in Hong Kong. The latter underlines Asia’s growing importance for the investment banking industry globally — in ECM, Asia now accounts for 30% of the fee pool, according to UBS — although one can assume that he will spend a lot of his time in Europe and the US as well.
The role of global head of ECM at UBS has been vacant since Matthew Koder was promoted to head of global capital markets (GCM) in 2006. Since then the global ECM job has become part of the responsibility of the global head of GCM, a title that until recently was held by David Soanes. (Koder left the bank in March 2011 to join Bank of America Merrill Lynch.)
GCM incorporates both equity and debt capital markets.
Kendall will report most closely to Matthew Grounds, who is head of corporate client solutions (CCS) for Asia-Pacific as well as CEO for Australasia. He also sits on the investment banking executive committee. But given Kendall’s global role, he will effectively also answer to Soanes, who is now head of CCS for Emea, and Steve Cummings, the head of CCS for the Americas.
CCS includes all advisory and solutions businesses plus execution that involves corporate, financial institutions and sponsor clients. It is one of the two core client segments of UBS’s investment bank following a reorganisation in October last year and is expected to generate around one-third of the revenues within the investment bank. The other segment is called investor client services (ICS) and includes execution, distribution and trading for institutional investors.
Kendall joined UBS in his native Australia in 1996 and worked in equities trading and sales trading in Sydney, New York, Singapore and London (where he ran the Asia sales trading desk) before he moved to Hong Kong in 2006 to join the ECM team and to set up the bank’s blocks franchise.
He was named co-head of equity syndicate for Asia in March 2008 together with James Fleming. After a close to one-year stint in London as head of syndicate for Emea in 2009/2010, he returned to Hong Kong in May 2010 to become sole head of equity syndicate for Asia before taking on the head of ECM role in April 2011.