Deutsche Bank is celebrating 150 years in the Asia-Pacific region this year. Of those, few were perhaps more pivotal than the past 18 months, when the bank hired over 50 bankers as part of a rebuilding exercise in its Origination & Advisory business.
Over two thirds of Deutsche's recent APAC hires were in Hong Kong and China, and it will continue to recruit, albeit more selectively, in 2022. “There’s going to be ongoing investment in talent,” Mayooran Elalingam, the bank’s Hong Kong-based head of investment banking coverage and advisory for APAC tells eFinancialCareers. “Our hiring this year will be more selective as we look to drive the M&A and Financial Sponsor business. Last year was filling some of the immediate gaps, and going forward we are looking to hire where we see significant strategic opportunity.”
What’s striking about Deutsche’s hiring spree is the rate at which it’s hired back former employees. Seven former senior bankers have re-joined the bank across APAC over the last 12 months. “As we started to focus on hiring last year, many former colleagues reached out and subsequently we have had a high proportion of re-joiners,” says Elalingam.
Ian Long, the bank’s former head of China ECM, rejoined last year as vice chairman of investment banking and coverage for Asia, while Derek Chung returned as head of financial institutions for Asia from AMTD International.
The bank has been investing in its equity capital markets business, which was affected by its strategic revamp globally in 2019. It's building out its industry coverage teams in Hong Kong and Singapore. “We’ve been building out the sectors teams of the future such as infrastructure, renewables, healthcare and technology," says Elalingam.
Deutsche has also hired bankers from rivals, recruiting Andrew Ma from Barclays as head of technology, media and telecoms for China, and Jeffery Wong from Goldman Sachs as Head of Hong Kong Coverage. It's bolstered its ECM team by hiring Joseph Lun from China Merchants Securities.
Elalingam says the bank is able to attract talent because it offers a straightforward proposition. “We’re on the right trajectory, and we are super focused. We don’t waste time chasing things we don’t need to. Bankers are coming to Deutsche because they want to do business for clients. There aren’t the layers of bureaucracy you may get elsewhere. We focus on hiring people with strong local expertise. I’ve been here 16 years, but it feels like a really good time right now and our business feels reinvigorated.”
Deutsche operates a dual-hubbed structure in APAC. Singapore has been one of the major hubs for Deutsche Bank's commercial banking and markets businesses, while wealth management and corporate finance are predominantly managed out of Hong Kong.
It also has a wide network of local offices across 14 markets in the region and Elalingam says this balanced structure has stood it in good stead during the pandemic, when China’s zero-Covid policy has led some banks to consider relocating bankers to other hubs. “For Deutsche, because of our local presence, this has not been an issue. North Asia represents a decent portion of the fee pool for corporate finance in APAC and so for IBD it’s essential to be here, and we don’t envisage that will change.”
Deutsche’s origination and advisory business plays to its strengths in M&A, leveraged finance and private equity. Deutsche Bank worked with UBS on one of last year’s biggest private equity exits, advising Advent International on the $2.3bn sale of King Koil mattresses to Hillhouse Investment Management. Elalingam says: “Our top management has strong linkage to M&A, lev fin and private equity. We aim to be a one-stop shop across M&A, financing and capital markets. If you’re a bank that primarily focuses only on ECM in China, then 2022 is going to be a tough year.”
Deutsche largely exited equities trading business globally as part of its 2019 revamp, but it has retained a focused ECM business in the region, while also tapping into the bank’s global expertise in special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).
Elalingam says that M&A activity has held up despite market volatility and Covid restrictions. “Chinese companies have reversed the trend of buying foreign assets and are now selling off non-core assets. This has attracted the attention of private equity firms, which are particularly active and are increasingly outbidding corporate bidders.”
Deutsche's growth is of the moment. - At a time when Chinese firms are delisting from foreign exchanges and coming home, Deutsche’s former bankers in Asia are doing a similar thing.
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