Ex-City Asia Chief Launches Financial Services Firm

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Citigroup’s (C.N) former Asia CEO Robert Morse on Wednesday said he has launched a Hong Kong-based financial services firm with $1 billion under management, together with two former colleagues.

Morse and former HSBC (0005.HK) Asia investment banking head Huan Guocang are co-chairmen of the firm, Primus Financial Holdings. They planned to build a financial group with financial advisory, wealth management and private equity services, Morse said.

Wing-Fai Ng, currently managing partner of Primus Pacific Partners, will be co-CEO of the new firm with Morse.

Huan and Ng are co-founders of Primus Pacific Partners, and with Morse aboard and $1 billion in capital, the three plan to make Primus Financial a full-fledged financial services firm.

Morse told Reuters that the $1 billion under management came from a single investor.

Morse, who had overseen Citigroup’s rapid expansion and investment in China in the past decade, left the U.S. bank in August 2008 after 23 years at what was once the world’s biggest financial services provider.

His formal title was chief executive of Citigroup’s Asia Pacific institutional clients group. Before moving to the Asia post in 2004, Morse had been head of global investment banking at Citigroup. He was also chief executive of Salomon Smith Barney’s Asia-Pacific operations in 1997 and 1998.

More former investment bankers are stepping up to launch their own funds after being laid off or resigning in the financial crisis as payrolls for top bankers shrink.

Mount Kellett Capital Management, a private equity firm run by former Goldman Sachs (GS.N) partner Mark McGoldrick, has raised at least $1.5 billion and is on the hunt for investments, Reuters reported in January. [ID:nHKG151908] (Reporting by George Chen and Michael Flaherty; Editing by Chris Lewis)