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Thread: Morgan Stanley optimistic about Asia

  1. #1
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    Default Morgan Stanley optimistic about Asia,,00.html?

    Published October 8, 2008

    Morgan Stanley optimistic about Asia

    SEA chief says it'll continue to grow S'pore, Asia business


    (SINGAPORE) Morgan Stanley will continue to grow its operations in Singapore and the rest of Asia despite recent changes affecting its American parent company, its South-east Asian head said yesterday.

    Ronald Ong, Morgan Stanley's chief executive for South-east Asia, told reporters that its main business lines in Asia are doing well.

    Mergers and acquisitions business across the region has hit 'a record level' this year, he said. And as for investment banking business in Singapore: 'This year is probably going to end up one of our best.'

    This trend is likely to continue over the next year or so. 'The M&A business has actually increased quite substantially. I see M&A driving investment banking business for at least the next 6-12 months,' he said.

    But the capital markets business - helping companies raise funds from investors through share or debt issues - has slowed since the middle of the year. 'We're seeing some transactions done, but only for high-quality issuers.'

    Despite the sharp withdrawal of funding from credit markets worldwide, finance has not dried up completely, he said. 'For the right deal and right client, it continues to be available.'

    That Neptune Orient Lines was able to obtain finance for its recent US$5 billion bid for German carrier Hapag-Lloyd shows there are still investors willing to back deals, he pointed out.

    Last week, Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of the world's biggest banks with US$1.1 trillion of deposits, bought a 21 per cent stake in Morgan Stanley for US$9 billion.

    The capital injection came days after US regulators gave Morgan Stanley approval to convert itself into a bank holding company, which effectively turned the standalone investment bank into a commercial bank, subject to stricter federal regulation.

    The changes 'will not affect our operations', said Mr Ong. 'In fact, it's positive for our clients and our service and business.'

    Morgan Stanley recognises the continued importance of Asia to its business, he said. Asia now contributes about a sixth of the bank's global revenue and 'we see that increasing'.

    Morgan Stanley has 27 investment bankers in Singapore, including two senior bankers who moved here recently from London and New York. The bank is also adding staff in Indonesia, where it recently received a licence for securities underwriting.

    Other divisions, including fixed-income, equities, commodities and asset management, are also doing well, Mr Ong said.

    Tan Su Shan, who joined Morgan Stanley in May as managing director of its private wealth management business in South-east Asia, said that the bank has added new private clients. 'For September alone, year on year, we saw double-digit growth in our business.'

    With MUFG as a major shareholder, Morgan Stanley - which has been exploring options for expanding its private banking business in Asia - could form a 'strategic alliance' with the Japanese bank, though no such decision has been made yet, Ms Tan said. 'We want to build a full private bank. The MUFG deal does give us a third option of a strategic alliance, which we are still exploring. The first two options are to build our own, or to buy.'

  2. #2
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    October 8, 2008 Wednesday

    Morgan Stanley still hiring here

    By Gabriel Chen

    THE giant American bank Morgan Stanley is still hiring people in Singapore and keeping investment funds flowing to its clients.

    Its statement of confidence yesterday comes amid a worsening global financial crisis and just weeks after it turned itself from an investment bank into a commercial one taking deposits.

    New staff - and new customers - are being taken on for its investment banking and private wealth management divisions, among the firm's largest units in terms of staff strength here.

    In Singapore, it employs 600 people working across these areas as well as institutional sales and trading, commodities, prime broking, asset management as well as operational and support staff.

    Headcount across South-east Asia is expected to grow by 5 to 10 per cent in the next three to five years, said the bank's chief executive for South-east Asia, Mr Ronald Ong, yesterday.

    'When it comes to Asia, we continue to win business. There is strong momentum in Asia as well as in Singapore,' he said at a briefing.

    It was Mr Ong's first interview since Morgan Stanley sold a 21 per cent equity stake to Japan's largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, for US$9 billion (S$13.2 billion) last month.

    Analysts said the deal will boost Morgan Stanley's capital base and offer it the 'powerful opportunity' to accelerate its transition to a bank holding company.

    Despite talk of the credit crunch, 'for the right deal and for the right client, financing is still available,' he added.

    The bank has about 30 capital market mandates outstanding in various stages of execution, with 10 having been won in the past few months.

    Some of the deals announced last month include Bank of China's US$338 million acquisition of LCF Edmond de Rothschild and LG Electronics' US$150 million acquisition of Conergy.

  3. #3
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    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    Asia still going strong

    M&As to drive investment banking deals

    Kelvin Chow

    [email protected]

    INVESTMENT banking in the United States may have slowed and the big names in the industry have either disappeared, merged or transformed into bank holding companies, but Morgan Stanley Asia said the business remains robust in the region.

    Morgan Stanley said its core investment banking activities, such as helping companies raise funds in capital markets and managing mergers and acquisitions (M&A), are still going strong.

    Mr Ronald Ong, chief executive of Morgan Stanley Asia (Singapore) said that while activities in capital markets has slowed down since the middle of this year, the M&A business has increased quite substantially. He sees an emerging trend in M&A transactions as most companies have built up large cash reserves to expand and valuations are now more realistic.

    “I see M&As driving our investment banking business at least in the next 6 to 12 months and obviously if the markets improve, we will see business from capital markets coming back,” he said.

    Morgan Stanley in the United States has been converted to a bank holding company, but the local arm said it has no plans to venture into retail banking yet.

    However, it will be exploring options to expand its wealth management services here.

    Ms Tan Su Shan, Morgan Stanley’s head of private wealth management for South-east Asia, said: “We see Singapore as a key private banking hub. Given that is our view, we are fully committed to build upon what we already have here. This means that we could be expanding into a full bank model by either building upon our existing platform or by any strategic alliances or acquisitions.”

    When asked when the platform will be ready, she said there was no “definitive answer”.

    The private banking industry here has already drawn big names such as UBS and ING eager to tap growing wealth in Asia.

    When asked about the morale of the 600-strong staff here in Singapore, Mr Ong said: “We are busy, and when we are busy, staff morale is not as issue. People are generally happy that there is business to be done and that is important.”

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