Citi Hires Co-Head for China Banking

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup (C.N) on Thursday said it has appointed Rodney Tsang as co-head of its China investment banking group, beefing up its team in an effort to become the top global bank in the world’s third-largest economy.

Tsang joins the bank after more than two years at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch as head of China private sector coverage. Tsang will report to Farhan Faruqui, head of Asia-Pacific Global Banking.

“The idea behind hiring Rodney was to bring in someone with complimentary industries and relationships,” Faruqui said in an interview on Thursday. The China banking team has managing directors with backgrounds in financial institution group and resources coverage.

“Rodney brings a lot of real estate and industrial sector capability,” he said. “With Rodney, we’re adding extra firepower to the team.”

Citigroup, coming off a massive U.S. government bailout last year, has landed some other big name hires in Asia from other banks recently, including former Credit Suisse natural resources banker Jason Johnson. [ID:nHKG265303]

Faruqui said China was of particular importance to the bank. Citi earned a record profit of 1.3 billion yuan ($190.5 million) in China last year. Tsang will be one of four managing directors in the China Investment Banking group, according to the company.

“This is a long-term effort. I don’t want to be top three, I want to be No.1,” Faruqui said, speaking about Citi’s China banking franchise. “Given the footprint we have in China, our corporate and investment banking platform, and our commitment to growth in China, there is no reason we can’t be No.1.”

Citi is competing against the likes of JPMorgan, UBS, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs in China. The bank was among the handlers of the $2.34 billion Hong Kong IPO by China’s MCC that priced on Thursday.

Previously, Tsang worked at Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX) in senior roles that included head of M&A for Greater China and head of corporate finance Asia.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Chris Lewis)