After a summer of hiring and firing by Asian securitization firms, one could reasonably expect things to settle down as the traditionally more active winter months kick in. That, however, is not the case as more migration is expected within the securitization groups at Calyon Securities, Moody's Investor's Service, Nomura Securities, Societe Generale.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is Christopher Chau's departure as head of Asian securitization at Nomura. Chau joined the firm from Fitch Ratings in 2001. Although other firms have been busier in the intervening years, Chau's team built up a reputation for working on some of the most innovative transactions in the region.
Two particularly noteworthy deals were the $250 million offering in June 2001 by Malaysian wafer foundry First Silicon, the first and only whole business securitization in Asia, and the 27 billion ($252.6 million) ticket receivables transaction from Korea Air Lines in September 2003 - the first-ever yen-denominated securitization from a non-Japanese issuer and the largest air ticket receivables deal.
Chau's exit was confirmed by a number of sources, and he is reportedly moving to fulfill an identical role at HypoVereinsbank following an internal promotion of HVB's former ABS head, Nick Hamilton.
Another well-established figure leaving his post is Andy Lai, head of the Asian financial engineering group at Societe Generale. An official at the bank confirmed the news and some believe SG will be focusing more on other markets for the foreseeable future.
"I can confirm that Andy Lai has left SG and no replacement is planned," the official said. "SG will continue to offer services to its clients in Asia through its Australian, European and U.S. securitization teams, with Australia being the contact point responsible for co-coordinating business opportunities in Asia. The firm maintains a strong commitment to developing the securitization business in Europe, the U.S. and Australia."
Heads of Asian ABS at rival firms believe having a presence on the ground in the region is a true show of commitment and essential to securing mandates. So, inevitably, speculation is rife on why SG is scaling back in Asia.
Rival bankers believe SG was guilty of putting all its eggs in the Taiwanese basket, only to find it not as lucrative as it hoped. The firm was the first overseas bank to get a foothold in the embryonic market, establishing a cooperation agreement with Industrial Bank of Taiwan in 2001, a year before any securitization legislation had been passed.
SG and IBT then closed Taiwan's first securitization in January 2003, a NT$3.65 billion ($104.8 million) CLO. Almost two years in the making, with Taiwan's regulators struggling to grasp securitization concepts, SG must have hoped its efforts would be rewarded with a bundle of mandates and significant fee income.
However, despite the two firms teaming up again, most recently in June, for a NT$2.13 billion real estate asset trust securitization - another first in Taiwan - only two completed deals to show for over three years of hard graft must have been a major disappointment to SG.
Talk is that SG gave IBT a securitization education for small financial gain, only for its partner to recently inform SG its services were no longer needed. "Such is the risk of Taiwan," commented the head of Asian ABS at a rival house.
Lai was offered a move to SG's London office, but Lai rejected the move. A financial recruiter reported that Lai will shortly resurface at BNP Paribas, with current Asian ABS head Razi Amin taking up a post in London.
Meanwhile, the outlook at Calyon is somewhat more positive. In July the French bank hired Greg Park, former head of Asian ABS at Credit Suisse First Boston (see ASR 6/14/04), to run its regional ABS franchise, effectively from scratch.
With its participation secured on the next MBS from Korea First Bank (see ASR 10/4/04), as well as securing mandates for primary CLOs in Taiwan, Park has made a bright start to his term at Calyon and two new hires reflect his optimism.
Seung Hoon Paik joins as an associate from Samsung Securities and will be based in Korea. Kennis Wong, latterly of Daiwa Securities' capital markets team, has been hired as a vice president and, like Park, will be based in Hong Kong. Park's team also includes Stanley Yuan, who works on Taiwanese opportunities in Taipei.
All the above moves follow a summer that saw CSFB decide not to replace the outgoing Park, while Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Securities tentatively rebuilt their franchises in non-Japan Asia. ABN AMRO, HSBC Securities and Standard Chartered were adding ABS professionals, while Diane Lam, longstanding director of Asian structured finance ratings at Standard & Poor's, recently left the agency.
In Tokyo, Moody's has promoted Keiko Kurasaki to managing director of its Japanese structured finance group, where she reports in to Naoki Yamauchi, representative director of Moody's Japan.
Kurasaki was one of the founding members of Moody's structured finance team, joining the agency in 1992 as a research associate. Since 2001, she has held the role of senior vice president and head of ABS
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