Asia IPO bankers continue game of musical chairs with UBS moves

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(April 16): The recent game of musical chairs is continuing for bankers selling initial public offerings in Asia, with UBS Group AG the latest to announce changes.

UBS appointed Hannah Malter as Asia head of equity capital markets syndicate, effective immediately, it said Monday in an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg. Malter, who formerly worked as Asia-Pacific chief of staff at the bank, is getting the new role just weeks after rejoining the ECM team to focus on Asia-into-US IPOs.

It was only last month that UBS restructured its capital markets group in Asia, combining the businesses that handle stock offerings and debt sales under a single leader. UBS also announced Monday it’s promoting former syndicate head Andrea Casati to vice chairman of Asia Pacific ECM, the memo shows. A spokesman for UBS confirmed the contents of the memo.

The moves come at the beginning of what’s expected to be a banner year for listings in the region, driven by share sales from Chinese technology companies. Smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. is preparing an IPO in Hong Kong with a target valuation of as much as US$100 billion, while food review and delivery app Meituan Dianping is planning a listing at a valuation of at least $60 billion, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

The changes at UBS come as the bank fights a ban on sponsoring initial public offerings in Hong Kong. They’re not the only moves in the city. Sunil Dhupelia, who was an executive director at the Swiss firm, is joining Credit Suisse Group AG’s equity capital markets syndicate team, people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

Dhupelia will take over some of the responsibilities that were held by 13-year Credit Suisse veteran Tucker Highfield, according to the people. Highfield, who was head of Asia-Pacific equity syndicate, is leaving Credit Suisse to join Bank of America Corp., other people with knowledge of the matter said last week.

As the bankers trade places, more deals are getting ready to launch. Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, China’s biggest insurer by market value, started gauging demand Monday for a planned listing of its Good Doctor health-care app. Equity offerings in Hong Kong have already raised US$20.3 billion in the first quarter this year, the highest in at least a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.