ICBC unit to increase staff hiring

08:43, February 15, 2011      

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ICBC International Holdings Ltd, the securities unit of the world's largest lender, will hire more people from global rivals as it expands abroad to compete with the likes of Morgan Stanley and UBS AG for advisory work.

"We are increasingly internationalizing our work force," Mary MacLeod, who joined ICBC International last month as deputy chief executive officer from Deutsche Bank AG, said in a Friday interview. "As our client base and our presence continue to expand beyond China and globally, we need to ensure that our bankers have the experience to operate in a global framework."

Hong Kong-based ICBC International plans to increase its 250-strong work force "significantly" over the next two years as it moves beyond helping Chinese companies sell stock or find takeover targets, said MacLeod, without providing more detail. She was chief operating officer of Deutsche Bank's investment-banking unit in the Asia-Pacific region before joining ICBC International.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), the parent of ICBC International that's the world's largest bank by market value, said in April it hired Deutsche Bank's Lee Zhang as a vice-president. The hiring of Zhang, one of the most senior Chinese investment bankers at a Western securities company, fueled speculation that Chinese financial companies were getting ready to hire executives from Wall Street companies such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

ICBC International started operations in 2009, and participated in Petroleo Brasileiro SA's $70 billion share sale, the world's largest, as a joint bookrunner in September last year. It was the first time a Chinese investment bank took part in a global offering.

ICBC International also worked on the $20.5 billion initial public offering of insurer AIA Group Ltd in Hong Kong in October, the biggest IPO in the city. That deal helped make the company the 11th-largest underwriter of first-time stock sales in Hong Kong, its best-ever showing. New York-based Morgan Stanley ranked first, according to Bloomberg data.

Companies raised a record HK$430 billion ($55 billion) in IPOs in Hong Kong last year, as economies and stock markets recovered from the global financial crisis. ICBC International helped arrange three more IPOs in the city, all by Chinese companies.

Matching the pay offered by companies like New York-based Goldman Sachs and Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank has been a major obstacle for Chinese securities companies trying to expand, executives and headhunters have said.

"Getting global talent has been a big headache for us," China Merchants Securities (HK) Co Managing Director Ronald Wan said in an interview in November. "It is quite challenging to convince our parent group in China to agree to offer competitive packages, especially when it comes to bonuses."

While China boasts four of the world's 10 largest banks by market value, pay remains a fraction of what executives in the United States and Europe get, limiting their allure as employers.

ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing was paid 911,000 yuan ($138,155) in 2009, compared with the 9.55 million euros ($12.9 million) package awarded to Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann the same year, according to annual reports of the two lenders.

"Chinese banks are less flexible with the compensation structure," said Jessica Lo, a Shanghai-based vice-president at compensation consulting company McLagan. "Management mostly just follows the target set earlier. There is less room for negotiation."

Source:China Daily
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