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Hong Kong M&A headcounts to shoot up as every bank from Goldman to RBS looks to recruit

The recent M&A rebound is expected to strengthen significantly this year, with global deals on track to rise 36 per cent to $3.04trn, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting Services. In Hong Kong this growth will cause banks to ramp up their M&A headcounts by about 10 to 20 per cent, says Rafael Brana, associate, Bo Le Associates.

UBS, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the top-three ranked banks in 2010 Asian M&A (see graphic below), will be steady recruiters.

“However, firms that were heavily affected by the financial crisis, like Citi, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and RBS, should be the most aggressive hirers given their thinner ranks of M&A talent. Also the Japanese firms Nomura and Daiwa have growing ambitions,” says a senior M&A recruiter who asked not to be named.

Another anonymous headhunter comments: “We’ll see new recruits perhaps at RBS, BNP Paribas, HSBC and Standard Chartered, and clearly Nomura and Morgan Stanley need to hire given departures last year.”

Most Hong Kong vacancies will be in the energy, mining, financial institutions and consumer sectors, with renewed interest in media and telecoms, says Gary Howard, consultant, Talent2. Several banks invested in high profile rainmakers in 2010, so they are now filling junior to mid-level execution positions in order to support increased deal flow, he adds

Expansion by M&A boutiques and major investment banks in Hong Kong will place more pressure on a candidate-short market. “Demand will outstrip supply and push up salaries, but banks are very cautious about this. They certainly don’t want to be seen as throwing away money given the bad press relating to compensation packages,” says Howard.

An added challenge for banks in the battle for talent is that private equity firms are stepping up their efforts to poach M&A analysts and associates, says David Koo, associate director, CTPartners.

While many M&A jobs in Hong Kong demand China expertise, professionals from western countries are sometimes recruited for roles in which cross-border experience is paramount. “Senior overseas M&A people will be brought to Asia as local companies have global aspirations and need advice on acquiring assets outside their home markets,” explains Brana.

Asian M&A adviser ranking in billions
<IMG src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5205/5366143946_d7d09162cc.jpg" alt="Wall Street Journal“>
Source: Wall Street Journal and Dealogic

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