Tony Yau, a managing director at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, has left the firm after more than 10 years to join a Chinese financing company as CEO.
His move to Heung Kong Financial Group last month reflects a continued appetite for mainland institutions to hire senior bankers from Western banks, say headhunters.
Heung Kong Financial – part of a wider conglomerate which covers industries from furniture to real estate – specialises in loan financing, funds management and equity investment. It is a major shareholder in several Chinese firms, including GF Securities.
Yau began his career as an auditor at Arthur Andersen in 1996, before switching to investment banking with BNP Paribas in Hong Kong in 2000. He started at Deutsche six years later and his experience includes M&A, capital markets, derivatives and private equity, according to his online profile.
Bankers like Yau are in high demand for C-level and business development roles within Chinese companies – both financial and non-financial – that want to expand domestically and globally.
Mainland corporates, especially those in the technology sector, have been hiring high-profile senior bankers for about two years. E-commerce giant Alibaba, for example, appointed Goldman veteran Michael Evans as its president and tasked him with driving its international expansion.
Fosun Group – whose global buying spree has included the acquisition of British football club Wolverhampton Wanderers – now employs more than 70 M&A professionals, while Anbang Insurance houses more than 120 M&A specialists in its Beijing office.
Heung Kong Financial, meanwhile, is looking to apply for “new financial licenses” in areas such as finance leasing, mortgages and trusts in order to “bring new profit growth” to the company, according to its website.
“Senior bankers like Yau are increasingly moving into Chinese firms,” says Jason Tan, a partner at search firm Carlson Harriet in Shanghai. “In banking they face job cuts and a tough regulatory environment, but in corporate roles their skills and experience are more appreciated. Corporates have deep pockets and big ambitions to hire the next generation of leaders.”
Tan says so far this year his firm has already worked on 30 corporate development job vacancies in China that target senior bankers, including C-level roles for China Minsheng Investment, Suning Investment and HNA Investment Group.
Deutsche Bank, which has cut bonuses and made sweeping redundancies globally, could be a particularly fruitful place to hire directors and MDs from this year.
“More of its investment bankers will potentially leave for Chinese firms. They have few alternatives for the time being,” says Tan.
Image credit: felixR, getty