Zafrul becomes head of CIMB Investment Bank

The former head of the investment bank at Maybank replaces Charon Wardini Mokhzani who joined Khazanah two months ago. Separately, CIMB is in the process of strengthening its senior bench in North Asia.

Malaysia-based CIMB has hired Maybank’s Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz as the new CEO of its investment bank, according to an announcement issued during the holidays. He is replacing Charon Wardini Mokhzani who left CIMB at the end of October to become an executive director with Khazanah Nasional, which is CIMB’s largest shareholder.

Zafrul started his new job on January 2 and will report directly to group CEO Nazir Razak. In addition to his main role as CEO of the investment bank, he has also been appointed head of the investment banking division (IBD) and co-head of corporate clients solutions (CCS).

According to a source, CIMB is restructuring its business so that IBD and CCS will exist as two separate divisions of the investment bank. IBD will continue to focus on origination and execution across equity and debt capital markets, corporate finance and advisory, while CCS will comprise institutional and corporate client coverage.

According to CIMB’s website, CCS was formed to ensure a co-ordinated tailored delivery of the bank’s full suite of universal banking products and solutions to its corporate and institutional clients.

As part of the restructuring, FinanceAsia understands that Kong Sooi Lin and Matthew Kirkby will no longer hold the title of co-head of investment banking, but will essentially continue to do the same jobs as before.

As co-head of CCS, Kong will continue to focus on the client-facing part of the business. She is also deputy CEO of the investment bank. Kirkby will remain country head for North Asia and the bank’s top executive in that region. His key focus is on the product side, primarily regional ECM and advisory.

Kirkby’s reporting line will remain unchanged, with the exception that where he previously reported to Charon, he will now report to Zafrul. Kong, as co-head of CCS, will report directly to group CEO Nazir.

“In corporate relationship management I believe the partnership between Zafrul and Ms Kong Sooi Lin will be formidable as we continue to grow our coverage in the rest of Asean as well as [in] key Asia-Pacific markets,” the announcement quoted Nazir as saying.

Zafrul, who was most recently CEO of Maybank Investment Bank, brings a lot of investment banking experience to his new job, including a stint as a senior manager at CIMB Investment Bank earlier in his career. The latter means he is already familiar with CIMB’s business in Asean. Or as Nazir put it: “As an alumni he already understands the ‘CIMB DNA’. He now has the opportunity to spearhead the largest indigenous Asia-Pacific ex-Japan investment banking franchise to greater heights.”

Before joining Maybank, Zafrul also held positions as director at Kenanga Holdings, CEO of Tune Money and head of investment banking at Citigroup Malaysia.

He is also currently the president of the Kuala Lumpur Business Club and sits on the boards of Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia.

Separately, sources say CIMB is also in the process of transferring Lee Chee Khoon, the investment banker in charge of the bank’s agribusiness, to Hong Kong to take on an additional role as deputy CEO for North Asia.

The move is part of the bank’s efforts to strengthen its investment banking business in North Asia to match its core franchise in the Asean region. This has been a key priority following its acquisition of parts of Royal Bank of Scotland’s equities brokerage, ECM and advisory businesses in Asia and Australia in 2012.

In his new role, Lee will provide investment banking support to Kirkby, while also acting as a bridge between North and Southeast Asia with regard to CIMB’s commercial banking business.

The latter job will become increasingly important as CIMB is in the process of securing a corporate banking licence from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). Once that is in place, the bank is planning to start offering treasury services to its clients in Hong Kong, one source said.

Lee will retain his role as head of the agribusiness, which covers sectors such as plantations, rubber, sugar, pulp and paper, and poultry and livestock production, as well as commodities trading.

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