Deutsche Bank exec eyes ICBC gig

09:36, March 17, 2010      

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One of Deutsche Bank AG's top executives in Asia is in discussions about joining Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the world's largest lender by market value, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Lee Zhang, Deutsche Bank's head of global banking for Asia-Pacific outside Japan, is still with the company and it wasn't clear what position he would have at Beijing-based ICBC, said the people, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks are private. Zhang, 45, didn't respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.

If he makes the move, Zhang would be the most senior investment banker at a Western firm to join a Chinese State-owned lender. A move might entail a pay cut: ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing was paid 1.61 million yuan ($236,000) in 2008, about 12 percent of Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann's salary that year.

"Chinese banks are growing both domestically and globally and this may be one of the reasons they're attracting bankers from the private sector," said Manfred Jakob, a Frankfurt-based analyst at SEB AG. "Still, Deutsche Bank's strategy to grow in Asia remains intact."

Michael West, a spokesman at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, declined to comment.

ICBC, asked last week whether the bank was in talks to hire Zhang, had no comment. The Century Weekly magazine earlier reported that Zhang was among candidates for a senior job at a state-owned commercial bank.

ICBC offering

ICBC shares have gained more than 80 percent in Hong Kong since its 2006 initial public offering in which Zhang's Deutsche Bank team was one of the advisers.

The stock closed at HK$5.78 on Tuesday, valuing the lender at $239.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Deutsche Bank in December said pretax profit may hit a record 10 billion euros ($13.7 billion) in 2011, helped by expansion in Asia. Net revenue in the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, may almost double to about 4 billion euros by 2011, it said.

The German company in May named Robert Rankin, former head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific at UBS AG, as CEO for the region, excluding Japan.

A previous senior executive to join Bank of China Ltd from a Western bank stayed less than one and a half years with the company.

The lender hired Lonnie Dounn in February 2005 from HSBC Holdings Plc as its chief credit risk officer. Dounn resigned after 16 months. Bank of China hired Chim Wai Kin from Deutsche Bank to replace him in March 2007.

Zhang is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top advisory body. He is a financial adviser to the city of Beijing and the governor of Heilongjiang province.

Zhang joined Deutsche Bank from Goldman Sachs Group Inc in February 2001 as head of its China corporate finance business.

He was promoted to China chairman in September 2003 and Asia co-head of global banking the next year, reporting to Michael Cohrs.

During his first years at Deutsche Bank, Zhang made hires including Jack Zhai, now China president at Macquarie Capital Advisers, and Amanda Lu from Citigroup. He hired Charles Wang from Merrill Lynch & Co and Zhang Xiuping from JPMorgan Chase & Co. Lu, Wang and Zhang are still with Deutsche Bank.

While China boasts three of the world's seven largest banks by market value, pay remains a fraction of what executives in the US and Europe get, limiting their allure as employers.

ICBC Chairman Jiang, whose bank is the world's biggest by profit and has more than 385,000 employees, 16,386 branches and more customers than Russia has people, received 800,000 yuan of base salary for 2008.

On top of that, he got a bonus of 658,000 yuan plus pension and medical benefits totaling 152,000 yuan, according to ICBC.

Ackermann made 1.39 million euros in total 2008 pay, including 1.15 million euros in salary, according to Deutsche Bank's annual report for that year. He didn't get a bonus.

Deutsche Bank set aside about 357,000 euros last year in compensation and benefits for each employee at the corporate and investment bank, which includes the securities business and transaction banking.

Source:China Daily
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