Ex-Merrill Asia Banking Chief Launching PE Fund

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Merrill Lynch’s former Asia investment banking head is starting his own private equity fund, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, but will continue to serve as an adviser to the bank’s new owner, Bank of America (BAC.N).

The move by Sheldon Trainor to launch an Asia-focused investment fund had been rumored for several months.

Trainor, previously Merrill’s head of Asia investment banking, excluding Japan and Australia, stepped down from day-to-day responsibilities of the division in September to assume a new, more client-focused role, a source told Reuters at the time.

Trainor had reported to Damian Chunilal, who ran all of Merrill’s Asia-Pacific investment banking business. Chunilal left in November.

That same month, Jim Forbes, formerly a New York-based healthcare banker for Merrill, was named head of corporate and investment banking for Bank of America in the Asia Pacific region.

Bank of America agreed on Sept 15 to acquire Merrill after Merrill’s shares collapsed amid financial market panic that seized Wall Street that month.

Bank of America completed its acquisition earlier this month.

Trainor will stay on as an adviser to Bank of America, helping to originate investment banking deals, according to the source, who did not want to be identified because Trainor’s move has not yet been made public.

Trainor will retain a desk at the new company as well as receive a salary for his part-time role, according to Asiamoney, which first reported his new role.

Trainor’s private equity fund will focus on opportunities to buy distressed businesses in the region, Asiamoney reported.

Trainor did not return calls seeking comment.

(Reporting by Michael Flaherty, Editing by Kim Coghill)