Citi Names New Asia PE Banking Chief

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup (C.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has named managing director Christopher Gammons as its head of private equity banking in Asia, a spokesman said on Thursday, assuming the role at a challenging time for the buyout industry.

Gammons will replace Christopher Laskowski, who is relocating to Chicago, where he will remain at Citigroup as a private equity banker. Laskowski, a Citigroup veteran, will remain a private equity banker, handling deals for mid-western based buyout firms and hedge funds.

Laskowski spent 10 years in Asia, the last five heading up the private equity banking group. At Citi, that group is called the Financial Entrepreneurs Group.

The group is in charge of generating ideas and arranging loans for private equity firms to buy companies or stakes. These bankers, which most banks call the financial sponsors group, also help private equity firms cash out of investments and raise funds.

Though it has dropped in the last few months, Asia’s private equity activity heated up during the last few years. Large Western private equity firms, after spending billions on deals in the United States and Europe, moved resources and offices to Asia hoping to capitalise on the region’s growth.

Private equity fees during 2006 and 2007 were a huge boost to banks across the globe.

Citigroup ranked No. 1 in the private equity M&A league tables in Asia last year, excluding Japan and Australia, according to Thomson Reuters. The firm did 11 deals worth $5.1 billion. Year to date, Citigroup is ranked fourth in the league tables, with five deals worth $2.3 billion.

Gammons joined Citigroup last year, with more than a decade of Asian debt capital markets experience. Prior to joining Citigroup, he was head of debt products group at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, with responsibilities for high yield fixed income and syndicated leverage finance.

Gammons takes over at one of the most challenging times in the private equity industry, as the global financial crisis has restricted loans to buyers and plunging market valuations have forced many sellers to the sidelines, for now. (Reporting by Michael Flaherty; editing by Anne Marie Roantree)