Deutsche Bank ECM resignation

Will Li resigns as co-head of China ECM at Deutsche Bank

Will Li is leaving Deutsche Bank after two years to return to the fund management industry, sources say. Separately, the bank has let go of two bankers in its corporate finance division as part of a headcount reduction.
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Deutsche has cut headcount in corporate banking and securities in response to a slowdown in client activity 
<div style="text-align: left;"> Deutsche has cut headcount in corporate banking and securities in response to a slowdown in client activity </div>

Will Li, co-head of China equity capital markets (ECM) at Deutsche Bank, has resigned after almost two years with the bank. According to sources, Li plans to return to the buy-side.

Li started work in the investment banking industry in Hong Kong in 2000 and has held a variety of roles at different banks, but with a key focus on China. He is no stranger to fund management, however. Before he joined Deutsche in July 2010, Li ran his own macro hedge fund, Ocean Capital China Macro, which he started in 2009 and ran for about one-and-a-half years. The fund was awarded as the best macro hedge fund in 2010 by our sister magazine, AsianInvestor.

At Deutsche Bank, Li initially held a position as head of Asian real estate and gaming before he was appointed co-head of China ECM towards the end of 2010 together with Ian Long. Since then, the firm has worked on the a number of major listings by Chinese companies in overseas markets, including those of Haitong Securities, New China Life Insurance and Shanghai Pharmaceuticals in Hong Kong, and on the New York Stock Exchange.

Li is said to have resigned in early May and worked his last day at the firm a couple of weeks ago. He leaves the industry at a time when it is getting harder and harder for banks to make money on Chinese IPOs as fees are coming down and syndicates are getting bigger. In the current challenging market environment, Chinese issuers have also started to mandate banks based on their ability to bring in cornerstone investors or on the back of commitments to hard underwrite the deal, sometimes ignoring previous track records of bringing companies to market. This is resulting in a certain amount of frustration among established ECM bankers.

Long will become the sole head of China ECM following Li’s departure. Long rejoined Deutsche as an origination banker focusing on Chinese companies in February 2010, after a couple of years at Credit Suisse. He had a similar role before he left Deutsche to move to Credit Suisse in October 2007. At the Swiss bank he was a director in the global markets solutions group with a focus on the equity capital markets in Southeast Asia. Long began his investment banking career at Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong in 1997 and has also worked for a few years at J.P. Morgan Securities.

Separately, a source said that Deutsche’s new corporate finance management, led by Bhupinder Singh, who was named head of corporate finance and structuring last week, will be announcing a new structure for this division in the coming weeks. Singh’s remit includes corporate coverage, capital markets and investment banking in the Asia-Pacific region.

Some changes are already being made, however. According to sources, two corporate finance bankers were let go last week. The bankers weren’t named, but one was based in Southeast Asia and the other in Hong Kong.

The cut-backs are said to be part of a plan that was announced in October last year to reduce the headcount in corporate banking and securities by about 500 people. The cut-backs were “in response to the significant and unabated slowdown in client activity”, the bank said at the time. Most of the job cuts were going to be outside of Germany and were initially planned to be completed by the first quarter this year. Corporate banking and securities is a new division that comprises the bank’s markets and corporate finance businesses.

Deutsche confirmed Will Li’s departure but declined to comment beyond that.

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