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Morning Coffee: Potential lifeline for ECM bankers in Hong Kong

Nomura hires in ECM in Hong Kong

An ECM lifeline in Hong Kong?

It hasn’t been a great first quarter if you work in equity capital markets in Hong Kong or Singapore – ECM jobs have been among those trimmed at Standard Chartered, Goldman Sachs and CIMB. The general job market in ECM hasn’t been buoyant either, despite Asian ECM deal volumes rising last year as China lifted its IPO freeze. Banks hired too heavily during the previous few years, Matthew Hoyle, chairman of search firm Matthew Hoyle Financial Markets in Hong Kong, told us.

Nomura, however, may be set to add ECM staff in Hong Kong, following the appointment of Marshall Nicholson, the former CICC co-head of international investment banking, as its new head of ex-Japan Asia ECM. “It won’t be big hiring, but he’s a strong leader and will want to stamp his mark on the firm by bringing in some new people,” a Hong Kong headhunter told us.

Nicholson’s previous career also suggests that hiring is on the cards. Famous as the first Western banker to land a senior role at a mainland bank, Nicholson joined Bank of China International in 2007 and CICC five years later. He expanded the ECM teams at both banks, helping them to play much larger roles in the sector.

Nicholson will want to put his expansionist expertise to work at Nomura – the bank ranked outside the top 10 in last year’s Asia ex-Japan ECM league tables. Nicholson will be based in Hong Kong, which is hardly surprising given that he renounced his US citizenship in 2013 to receive a HKSAR passport. “I am very proud to say I have become Chinese,” Nicholson wrote in an email, which caused a stir in Hong Kong banking circles at the time.

Nomura itself cut 12 jobs in Hong Kong in January, although these were mainly trading positions.

Meanwhile:

Credit Suisse’s new boss Tidjane Thiam could cut 2,900 investment banking jobs to focus more on wealth management and Asian markets. (Reuters)

DBS relationship managers now have two hours’ less reading to do every day thanks to a new IT platform. (Channel News Asia)

There are 212,000 Singaporeans overseas and the government wants to attract some of them back. (Straits Times)

Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam “welcomes the setup” of boutique investment banks in Singapore as Evercore opens new office. (Business Times)

Upper management in China’s bloated state sector is under pressure to maximise returns and prepare for eventual listings. (Wall Street Journal)

ICICI, India’s largest private-sector lender, is in talks to sell part of its stake in an insurance unit to Temasek and Carmignac. (Bloomberg)


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