Merrill Lynch announced details of changes in its Asia Pacific structured finance business. Jim Yang will move from New York to Hong Kong to lead the bank's Asian-based finance, securitization and principal investments group. He will report to Michael Blum and Shinji Yoshikawa. Yang replaces Rajiv Garg, who will relocate to India to head up the asset-based finance securitization and principal investments effort in the rapidly expanding market. The bank also appointed Tim Grady managing director and head of Pacific Rim commercial real estate principal investments.

It is likely to be an active period for hires in Asia, particularly now that bonuses for 2005 have been paid. HSBC has yet to appoint a permanent replacement for Sarwar Ahmad, its former head of Asian securitization who left at the end of last year. Market whispers suggest major investment banks such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are looking to hire with a view to exploiting opportunities in China.

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