New Merrill CEO reflects UBS rival

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Paul Masi, as Merrill Lynch's new chief executive officer and country head for its Australian operations, shares striking similarities to his counterpart at UBS.

Announced Wednesday, Masi's appointment is effective immediately, following Kevin Skelton stepping down from the role.

Having joined Merrill Lynch in Australia in 2000, Masi was previously country co-head and head of Australasian equities before relocating to Hong Kong in 2003 to become head of Asia Pacific region equity markets and trading. Masi will be relocating to Sydney to take up the position.

Skelton will stay on as the chairman of investment banking for Australia, and stepped down from the role to have more time for clients and large transactions reports AAP Bulletins.

The background of Masi is strikingly similar to that of Brad Orgill at UBS.

Orgill was appointed CEO and chairman of UBS in Australasia after taking over from Chris McKay in March of this year. Orgill joined UBS in 1986 as co-head of the Australian equities business. He then spent ten years in Singapore and Hong Kong. During his time abroad Orgill was head of Asia Pacific Equities and was concurrently UBS chief executive and country head for Hong Kong and China.

Just prior to landing the top job in Australia, Orgill was UBS country head and branch manager for Singapore. Returning to Australia in 2005, Orgill is now also located in Sydney.

The current conditions are resulting in increased corporate activity, and the competition in Australia's investment banking space continues to grow. Investment banks have been recruiting strongly and boutique players are performing well and moving up the league tables. Recent recruiting reflects the strong market conditions.

We recently reported that Citigroup's head of mergers and acquisitions, John Hanson, is also moving to Merrill Lynch. Geoff Brunsdon, managing director and head of investment banking at Merrill Lynch, has also snapped up Greg Quinn from Goldman Sachs JBWere and Michael Richardson from Citigroup.

In a staff email Raymundo Yu, Merrill Lynch chairman for the Asia Pacific region, said, "The continuing growth of the Australian economy is generating significant opportunities for Merrill Lynch across its entire product range. In his new role, Paul will lead the business units in further enhancing the existing strong Merrill Lynch franchise by exploring new opportunities and continuing to leverage the global capabilities of the firm," reports Dow Jones.

The Australian Financial Review said, "Merrill Lynch's decision to bring back former head of equities Paul Masi from Hong Kong as the bank's Australian 'country head' and chief executive is another sign of the bank's increased commitment to this market."

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