Deutsche Bank AG’s Lee Zhang, one of the most senior Chinese investment bankers at a western securities firm, is leaving to join Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s largest lender by market value.
Zhang, 45, was named vice president at ICBC, according to a statement by the Chinese company to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. The appointment is subject to the approval of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
Losing Zhang may be a blow to the Frankfurt-based bank, where he helped win advisory roles on deals including ICBC’s initial public offering in 2006 and a share sale by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. At ICBC, Zhang will help oversee a push to triple the share of profit coming from abroad to 10 percent.
“We wish Lee well in his new role,” Deutsche Bank Chief Executive Officer Josef Ackermann said in an e-mailed statement. “China is and will remain a global priority market for Deutsche Bank.”
Zhang will leave at the end of May after almost a decade with Deutsche Bank, according to an internal memo from the German bank.
Robert Rankin, Deutsche Bank’s CEO of Asia-Pacific, will take over Zhang’s role as head of global banking for the region, while Richard Yacenda, acting chief operating officer for Asia, will become China chairman, the memo said. Both appointments are on an interim basis.
“Chinese authorities have been in close liaison with Deutsche Bank in relation to this appointment, which is the first senior management position at a major Chinese bank to be filled externally by an executive from a foreign bank,” said the memo, sent by Michael Cohrs, head of global banking, and Rankin.
Zhang last week helped Deutsche Bank win a role arranging the Hong Kong part of a planned IPO by Agricultural Bank of China, the nation’s third-largest lender. The sale will raise more than $30 billion, the Beijing Times reported last week. That would make it the biggest IPO in history.
In 2006, when Deutsche Bank worked on ICBC’s Hong Kong IPO, Zhang helped land a role as an adviser to Guangdong Development Bank on its $3.1 billion sale of a stake to a group led by Citigroup Inc.
Zhang is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to the nation’s legislature. He is also a financial adviser to the city of Beijing and the governor of Heilongjiang, a northern province that borders Russia.
Zhang joined Deutsche Bank from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in February 2001 as head of its China corporate finance business. He was promoted to China chairman in September 2003 and Asia co-head of global banking the next year, reporting to Cohrs.
During Zhang’s tenure, Deutsche Bank’s operations in China grew from 50 employees to 600, and it became a locally incorporated company. The firm acquired a stake in Huaxia Bank Co., which has a national banking license, as well as 30 percent of Harvest Asset Management Co. It also expanded into retail banking and formed an investment-banking venture with Shanxi Securities Co.
At Deutsche Bank, Zhang recruited bankers including Jack Zhai, now China president at Macquarie Capital Advisers, and Amanda Lu from Citigroup. He also hired Merrill Lynch & Co.’s Charles Wang and Zhang Xiuping from JPMorgan Chase & Co. Lu, Wang and Zhang are still with Deutsche Bank.
Deutsche Bank ranked sixth in managing equity sales in the Asia-Pacific region excluding Japan last year, slipping from fifth in 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. In overseas share sales by Chinese companies, it was 11th last year, gaining one position from 2008.
The German company in May hired Rankin, former head of investment banking for Asia-Pacific at UBS AG, as CEO for the region outside Japan. UBS has been the top equity underwriter in ex-Japan Asia-Pacific since 2005, according to Bloomberg data.
ICBC has spent more than $6 billion on acquisitions in Indonesia, Macau, South Africa and Canada in the past three years, and started ICBC International Holdings Ltd. in September 2008 to expand its investment-banking and capital markets operations abroad.
Shares of ICBC have gained more than 90 percent in Hong Kong since its 2006 IPO. The stock closed at HK$5.91 today, valuing the lender at $235 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.