Wall Street bank Bear Stearns Cos, which is building up its business outside the United States, has appointed John Moore, co-head of fixed income for Europe, to be its chief executive for Asia.
A small player in Asia relative to its peers, Bear Stearns has been battered by the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, where two of its hedge funds failed, leading to speculation it might tighten pursestrings for overseas growth.
Moore will take up the newly created role at the beginning of September and will report to Michel Peretie, head of Europe and Asia, Bear Stearns said on Wednesday.
Our business in Asia is growing at a significant rate and we are committed to increasing our investment in people and technology to deliver the best products and services to our clients, Peretie said.
Bear Stearns ranks 19th in total non-Japan investment banking revenue so far this year, with a market share of just 0.6 percent, according to Dealogic. That's an improvement on its 35th place and 0.4 percent market share last year.
Switzerland's UBS and U.S. rival Morgan Stanley lead the Asia ex-Japan league tables this year.
Yves Leysen, who was co-head with Moore of Bear's fixed-income business in Europe, will take on sole responsibility for that unit, the bank said.
Just 500 of Bear Stearns' roughly 15,000 global employees are based in Asia. About 250 work in Hong Kong, a number the bank aims to double over the next year, a source familiar with the situation said.
Moore declined to comment on any headcount targets, but said the company would expand in China and has its eye on opportunities in India, Korea and Taiwan.
There is, and is going to continue to be, lots of dollars in the product, but with the growth of the Chinese currency, the strength of the yen and the focus in other markets in that part of the world, you have to be focused on what the regional investor is looking for, Moore said.
Bear Stearns, whose shares have fallen more than 33 percent since the start of the year, has said it is focused on catching up with bigger rivals such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc in markets outside the United States.
I wouldn't be moving myself and my career and my family to Asia if I wasn't 1,000 percent sure of Bear's commitment of growing outside of the United States, Moore said.
Peretie told reporters in Tokyo this month the bank was aiming to make its international business account for as much as 30 percent of revenue within the next five years, from about 20 percent now. By contrast, Goldman earned 46 percent of its net revenue in foreign markets in 2006, while Merrill Lynch brought in 37 percent from abroad.
Bear Stearns, the smallest of the five big independent Wall Street firms, will emphasise sales and trading in Asia, while prime broking will remain a major focus in Europe, Peretie said earlier this month.
Moore joined Bear Stearns in 2001 as global head of agency capital markets in New York. He moved to London to manage fixed income sales and trading in 2004 and in 2006 became co-head of fixed income in Europe.
(Additional reporting by David Dolan in Tokyo)