Barclays Hires Former ABN Banker as China Chair

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Barclays Capital (BARC.L) said on Wednesday it appointed former top ABN Amro banker Zhi Zhong Qiu as Greater China chairman, taking another step toward building out its investment bank across the region.

Barclays, long known as largely a fixed-income firm, is in the process of expanding its equities business to become a full-service investment bank.

The move comes as other large Western investment banks retreat or scale back operations in Asia to deal with financial crisis troubles in their home markets. While last year’s crisis also hit Barclays, Britain’s second-biggest bank was much less affected by the market meltdown than rivals in Europe and the U.S.

“Greater China is a great strategic opportunity for Barclays Capital,” Qiu said in a statement. “The firm has established a strong foothold in the Greater China region, particularly with the recent investment in New China Trust and through its strategic relationship with China Development Bank.”

Barclays said Qiu would be responsible for the development and management of senior client relationships and provide coverage for financial institutions, government agencies and corporates in their pursuit of capital raisings and cross-border transactions.

Qiu, whose formal title is vice-chairman for Asia-Pacific and chairman of Greater China, will be based in Hong Kong and will report to Barclays Asia Chairman and CEO Robert Morrice.

Until April 2009, Qiu was chairman of ABN Amro China and vice-chairman ABN Amro Asia, a role he took in May 2006, before the ill-fated ABN takeover by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L).

EQUITIES PUSH

Barclays, which has a presence in 12 Asia-Pacific countries, has said it aims to use last year’s purchase of Lehman Brothers’ U.S. operations as a springboard to become an equities and M&A powerhouse globally.

Robert Morrice, chairman and chief executive of Barclays in Asia-Pacific, told Reuters this month he expected more hiring this year and net growth of 5-6 percent in 2010.

Barclays has expanded net staff at its investment bank arm Barclays Capital and at its wealth management business by about 5 percent in the past year to around 3,000, excluding its global support hub in Singapore. [ID:nT339003]

Prior to the announcement of Qiu’s hiring, Morrice told Reuters in Japan that building a stock underwriting franchise in China is top priority. [ID:nT173523]

“Now that we’re into the equities business we need to figure out how to get into the securities business much more in China,” he said.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (8316.T), Japan’s third-largest bank, invested about $1 billion to buy about a 2 percent stake in Barclays a year ago.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Chris Lewis)