'Huray gets central bank nod to take the helm at RHB IB'

  • The approval sets the stage for a small management reshuffle in the group.

  • Chan will become RHB’s country head for Singapore, sources say.

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This article first appeared in Corporate, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on June 20 - 26, 2016.

THE RHB banking group has obtained Bank Negara Malaysia’s approval to appoint Robert Huray as the new managing director and CEO of RHB Investment Bank Bhd (RHB IB), sources say, setting the stage for a small management reshuffle in the group.

Mike Chan, the current head of RHB IB, will move to Singapore as the RHB group’s country head. He will oversee the group’s businesses in the island republic, namely RHB Bank Singapore and RHB Securities Singapore.

Huray is currently the CEO of RHB Securities Singapore, a wholly-owned subsidiary of RHB IB. An Indonesian, Huray is the son-in-law of tycoon Tan Sri Ong Leong Huat, one of the substantial shareholders of RHB Capital Bhd, the listed entity of the RHB group. Ong holds a 9.97% stake.

“Approvals from Bank Negara and MAS [Monetary Authority of Singapore] have been obtained for the two. The changes will most likely take effect in July, after Hari Raya,” a source with knowledge of the matter tells The Edge.

It is understood that the group may be waiting for other non-regulatory approvals that are currently pending before communicating the changes.

The Edge first reported a possible changing of the guard at RHB IB in its April 11 issue. 

According to industry sources, the change of leadership at RHB IB is aimed at shaking up and reinvigorating the investment bank. Huray is said to be a charismatic individual in his late 30s. “He’s young and seen as quite dynamic ... it’ll be interesting to see how well he gets on with key corporate figures in Malaysia,” remarks one banker, adding that it is often strong relationships rather than capability that is key in securing investment banking mandates.

As for Chan, a seasoned investment banker with over 24 years of experience in the financial services industry, his impending move to Singapore is seen by many as a step up, given that the country is the RHB group’s biggest overseas market. It has been trying to derive more regional business, sources say, in a bid to improve the group’s revenue from overseas.

Last year, just 14.4% of RHB Capital’s revenue came from overseas. RHB Bank Singapore has seven branches, the most held by a Malaysian bank in the republic after Malayan Banking Bhd, which has 22 branches. The group’s current head of Singapore operations is Jason Wong.

Chan played an important role in the 2012 merger and subsequent integration of RHB Investment Bank and OSK Investment Bank, a move which gave the RHB group — in which the Employees Provident Fund owns a 42% stake — a regional presence.

There have been other changes within RHB IB too. Eugene Khoo, RHB IB’s regional head of mergers and acquisitions, recently left the firm and was replaced by his No 2, Soon Poh Lean. Soon joined RHB IB just over a year ago upon his return to Malaysia after working overseas for 14 years.

“Some of the changes are a result of the group optimising its headcount as part of the restructuring. There may be some other potential changes to come on the banking side (RHB Bank) too,” the earlier source says. 

In early April, the group announced details of an internal restructuring that ultimately involves RHB Bank Bhd assuming parent company RHB Capital’s listing status. The exercise, first announced last year and which saw it raise RM2.5 billion in capital through a rights issue, is expected to give the group better capital and tax efficiency for profit growth.

The listing of RHB Bank on Bursa Malaysia is expected to take place at the end of this month. The group downsized its Malaysian workforce via a career transition scheme in the third quarter of last year, which cost it RM309 million.

According to Mergermarket, a deal tracking firm, RHB IB was the advisor on five deals valued at US$685 million that were announced in the first quarter of this year. With five deals, it topped Mergermarket’s league table of financial advisors in Southeast Asia in terms of deal count for the quarter, but in terms of deal value, it did not rank among the top 10.