HSBC has sent its longstanding Asia debt capital markets origination head Rod Sykes to join the commercial banking coverage team in Asia Pacific, as part of a push by the bank to make more money originating deals from those clients in addition to the bank's core base of large traditional issuers.

In an internal memo obtained by Reuters, HSBC named Singapore-based Alexi Chan as Sykes' replacement, saying that he would report to Global Capital Markets head Stephen Williams and locally to Matthew Cannon, head of global markets Singapore.

Sykes, who joined the bank in 2005 after a long career at Morgan Stanley and then a short stint at Merrill Lynch, is an Asia debt veteran who specialises in high yield deals, an area in which HSBC had underperformed until then.

Moving Sykes from the global markets division, in which the debt capital markets team sits, to the global banking division fits with HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver's strategy for the firm of driving profits via the bank's under-utilised network of commercial banking clients.

These clients, which have traditionally used HSBC for loans and other straightforward banking services, are now being targeted by HSBC and its peers as sources of revenue from more sophisticated products including capital markets deals.

In his presentation of the firm's annual results to investors on Feb 27, Gulliver noted that the bank saw record revenues in 2011 in commercial banking and profits increase 30 percent year-on-year.

We have...made material progress in positioning the business for growth, particularly in the faster-growing markets and in commercial banking, he said.

Gulliver said that a priority for the bank is increasing sales of products from the global banking division to commercial banking customers, a drive which generated more than $500 million of incremental revenue in 2011.

Moving an experienced origination banker like Sykes from Markets to Banking is the latest step in the execution of that strategy.

The reshuffle of the firm's Asia debt business sees managing director Wallace Lam step in to the newly created role of head of high yield capital markets and commercial banking debt origination, Asia.

In that role he will attempt both to maintain the flow of lucrative high yield bond mandates for HSBC and join Sykes in his efforts to pitch the bank's commercial banking customers.

Sean Henderson, head of debt capital markets in Australia, adds New Zealand to his remit with the head of debt in that country, Gerard Field, reporting to him.

(Reporting By Lawrence White; Editing by Kim Coghill)