Why DBS has just poached the CEO of an oil company

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Here's why DBS hired an oil CEO, not a banker, for a top job at the firm

DBS has just hired the chief executive of a Singaporean oil company as the bank continues its pan-Asian push in project finance.

Eddy Tan joined DBS earlier this month as an executive director in project finance following 16 months as CEO of First Oil, a fuel trading firm, according to his online profile. Tan previously did two stints of about a year each at energy companies in Jakarta: Foster Oil & Energy (as COO) and ST Energi (as president director).

Tan has moved to one of DBS’s most international and expansionist front-office teams. DBS set up its dedicated project finance unit in April 2010 and has been hiring consistently since then to gain a share of Asia’s huge infrastructure development needs.

DBS employs about 30 infrastructure and project finance bankers in Singapore, the Straits Times reported in September. The project finance unit also has staff in Beijing, Seoul, Sydney, and Vietnam. It operates in sectors such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and transportation, and is headed up by managing director Lim Wee Seng, who joined DBS back in 1995.

DBS isn’t the only firm hiring project finance bankers in Asia right now as China’s Belt and Road initiative helps to fuel demand. As we reported in September, JP Morgan, Citi and HSBC are among the banks expanding their teams. Developing Asia needs to invest US$26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change, according to the Asian Development Bank.

New DBS recruit Tan’s blend of industry, banking and consultancy experience makes him in demand in this kind of job market. Tan, who has a Masters degree in petroleum engineering from Imperial College London, began his career in 1997 with a three-year stint as a reservoir engineer at Shell in Malaysia. He then became a consultant at oil and gas advisory firm Gaffney, Cline & Associates in Singapore, before returning to Shell in 2006 in a business advisory role.

Tan has worked in banking once before, at Standard Chartered in Singapore between 2008 and 2013. He was latterly a director in oil and gas corporate finance at the bank.

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Image credit: ssuaphoto, Getty

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