VTB Capital, the investment business of Russia’s VTB Group, has hired Roger Suyama as head of Indonesia corporate and investment coverage, it said in a press release. The move is part of VTB’s stated strategy to strengthen its position and further business development in the Asia-Pacific region, it said.
Suyama has extensive experience in investment banking in Asia, and in Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia in particular. Between 1987 and 2009 he worked at Merrill Lynch in two periods during which he was responsible for business development in Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. He also led Merrill Lynch’s investment banking business in Indonesia, which was making headlines at the time as one of the key markets for a business model that was spearheaded by Merrill and referred to as “syndicated investing”. The idea was that the bank would invest its own money alongside that of its private equity and hedge fund clients.
At VTB, Suyama will initially focus on developing a dialogue with leading Indonesian companies and individual company owners with regard to M&A and financing. He will be based in Singapore.
That Suyama is finding his way to the Russian bank is not that strange, since VTB’s Asia CEO, Damian Chunilal, also has a background at Merrill Lynch where he was head of Pacific Rim investment banking as well as chief operating officer for same region until late 2008. He left the bank around the time it was being taken over by Bank of America. Chunilal joined VTB in January this year.
In a written comment, Chunilal referred to Indonesia as one of the most promising markets in Asia, given its fast growth and ample supply of natural resources. “I am sure that Roger Suyama’s experience, client relationships and knowledge of local markets will promote business for VTB Capital in Indonesia and strengthen the company's position, especially when working with clients operating in the natural resources sector," he said.
Suyama left Merrill Lynch in 2009 and in 2010-2011 worked as head of natural resources for Asia at ANZ in Singapore. During this time he worked on the largest Indonesian coal IPO and ANZ’s own sale of a 30% stake in Golden Energy Mines to Indian Infrastructure company GMR for $500 million. Immediately before joining VTB he was a non-executive chairman of Aries Capital Partners (Singapore), a developer of coal concessions in Indonesia.
Earlier in his career, during a break from his employment at Merrill Lynch in 2003-2004, he was an executive director at Goldman Sachs in Singapore.
VTB’s continued expansion in Asia comes as rival Russia-based investment bank Renaissance Capital has recently cut back its presence in the region. In late May, RenCap let go of its Asia head, Jeremy Sparrow, as part of global “organisational changes” aimed at refocusing the business in the face of tough market conditions. And a few weeks later it emerged that the bank had closed its entire Hong Kong office, as well as its representative bureau in Beijing, intending instead to manage its Asia commitments out of London and Moscow.
VTB and RenCap started to make inroads into Asia following the Hong Kong IPO of Russian aluminium producer Rusal in January 2010, for which they were both a bookrunner. The plan was to capitalise on the increasing trade and investment flows between Asia (China in particular) and Russia – and in the case of RenCap, Africa as well.
VTB Capital has had an office in Singapore since 2009 and officially opened its Hong Kong office in November last year after receiving a licence to execute investment banking services from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission last summer.
In a co-published article in the August issue of FinanceAsia magazine VTB noted that aside from helping Russian companies list in Asia, the bank is also looking to develop local businesses based around bond trading and principal finance. Being able to selectively hold new financing positions on its balance sheet will allow VTB to align its interests with Asian clients, it said. Initially the bank will focus on companies in China and Indonesia that operate in the natural resources sectors – sectors in which VTB has strong existing capabilities – although in time it may expand into other countries and sectors.