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Senior bankers in Asia jumping ship to join China’s tech companies

bankers in Asia, job-hopping, chinese technology companies

In a mirror of a U.S. trend, senior bankers in Asia are jumping ship to join Chinese technology companies.


In the past two months, Credit Suisse AG's head of China technology, J.P. Morgan Chase's head of China health care, and the head of technology, media and telecommunications in Asia for Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit have all left for Chinese tech companies.


A combination of increased regulation, cost controls and lower compensation—the result of banks' need to raise returns on capital—is making banking jobs less attractive for some, said Robert Grandy, regional head of financial services for Asia Pacific at executive search firm Korn Ferry.


"Things like compensation aren't as favorable, when you compare them to corporates, as they may have been a few years ago, and cost controls have made things a little tougher," said Mr. Grandy. "With low interest rates and slow activity, the opportunities for bankers to do deals are less."


At Chinese technology companies, by contrast, billions of dollars in venture capital have led to soaring valuations and cash-rich balance sheets. Many of these companies are now looking to put excess capital to work by making acquisitions at home and abroad, which creates roles for people with banking experience.


"The areas where I think the corporates will be hiring are going to be the same areas that are busy with banks, so right now it's probably health care, technology and insurance," Mr. Grandy said.


"The bankers will look at opportunities where they have a chance to really do well, which is going into a startup situation or a company that's in growth mode, and try to grow along with that company."


Catherine Liu, for one, recently left Credit Suisse, where she was a director and head of China technology coverage, to join U.S.-listed Chinese internet-services provider Qihoo 360 Technology Co. as its chief strategy officer.


Ling Zhang, most recently a managing director and head of China health care at J.P. Morgan, left banking at the end of August to join Shenzhen-based biotechnology company BGI Genomics as its chief operating officer.


Other similar moves include Winston Cheng's August departure from Bank of America Merrill Lynch for Chinese online video provider Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp.



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