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ECM hiring suffers Japanese jitters

UBS has combined its Tokyo equity capital markets bankers into a joint ECM/DCM team as recruitment in this sector hits the buffers. The bank’s decision to create a combined capital markets group in Japan is part of a global strategy to help equity and debt specialists “work better in partnership”, Jackie Kestenbaum, a UBS executive director, tells us.

However, one recruiter, who asked not to be named, speculates that the move is partly motivated by a lack of ECM work. Japanese companies have so far raised US$5.2bn through equity and equity-linked transactions this year – less then half the amount raised during the same period in 2007 – and UBS hasn’t handled any equity deals, according to figures from Thomson Reuters.

And the downturn has hit hiring hard. Jonathan Paine, a recruiter from Talent2, says ECM hiring is slow in comparison to the more buoyant DCM market. Donald Eddy, corporate finance manager at recruiters Robert Walters, says some international banks have cut back their ECM teams.

Kojiro Nojiri, managing director at Akamai Financial Markets, adds: “ECM recruitment is quiet at the moment with the stock market bottoming out and some banks being under hiring freezes from their global headquarters.”

But while banks are not actively hiring, candidates with the right skills should still be snapped up. There is an extreme talent shortage for bilingual bankers with ECM experience, says Eddy. “It’s especially hard to recruit people from the Japanese banks to work in an international firm. The rotational system at local banks makes it difficult for them to acquire the right depth of ECM knowledge. They need excellent English too,” he adds.

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