China Renaissance Partners, a Beijing-based financial firm, hired the two most senior executives from U.S. investment bank Cowen Group Inc.’s Asia division to run its unit in Hong Kong, stepping up efforts to expand outside its home market.
The appointments of Thaddeus Beczak, the former chairman of Cowen Asia, and Frank Au, who was chief executive officer of the Asian business, will help bolster China Renaissance’s health care and consumer businesses, Bao Fan, founder of the Chinese firm, said in phone interview. China Renaissance plans to apply for securities licenses from regulators in Hong Kong and the U.S., Bao said.
China Renaissance, which won advisory roles in technology deals including Youku Inc.’s planned $1 billion acquisition of Chinese online video rival Tudou Holdings Ltd., plans to broaden its range of investment-banking services. Au, a former banker at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., co-founded his own financial firm before selling it to Cowen in 2008.
“China Renaissance plans to transform into a full-service investment bank,” Au said yesterday. The firm will offer securities sales, trading, research, underwriting and corporate finance services in Hong Kong and U.S., he said.
Beczak and Au left Cowen last month, said David Lu, who was promoted to head of Asia investment banking at the New York-based firm last week. Cowen will continue to “actively build our presence” in Asia, the firm said last week.
“It’s a question of time before China will become one of the centers of the global financial markets, and to that end China should have its own global investment bank,” Bao said May 2. “Historically we have established ourselves as the leading technology investment bank in China.”
China Renaissance won a role in a $1.5 billion placement by 360Buy.com last year, when the Chinese online retailer sold stock to investors including Tiger Fund and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST. The Chinese firm also advised New York-listed E-Commerce China Dangdang Inc. and NQ Mobile Inc.
China Renaissance is creating a new unit, China Renaissance Securities. Beczak, who was president of J.P. Morgan Securities Asia in the 1990s, was appointed the subsidiary’s chairman, while Au was named president, Bao said.
China Renaissance’s office in Hong Kong is its first outside mainland China, where the firm has more than 40 employees in Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese company may add offices in New York and San Francisco, Au said.
“We are a China-focused investment bank,” Au said. “Our expansion into the U.S. is to support our core business. We will underwrite, sell and research U.S. listed China companies.”
China Renaissance will continue to develop its advisory business for mergers and acquisitions, and private placements, Au said.
Under Au, Cowen won work from Chinese consumer companies including Vipstore.com and Zhongpin Inc., as well as medical-equipment company China Kanghui Holdings Inc., according to the U.S. firm’s website.