Goldman Sachs's Leissner Moves to Los Angeles, Takes Personal Leave

  • Leissner helped build Goldman's business in Malaysia
  • Firm's deals with Malaysian state fund led to fee scrutiny

Tim Leissner, the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive who helped build the investment bank’s Malaysia business, has relocated to Los Angeles and is on personal leave, people familiar with the matter said.

Leissner, who has been with Goldman Sachs for almost 18 years and was most recently Singapore-based chairman of its Southeast Asia operations, remains an employee, said the people. They asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Tim Leissner and Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner with their son Wolfe.
Tim Leissner and Kimora Lee Simmons Leissner with their son Wolfe.
Photographer: Randy Brooke/WireImage via Getty Images

An e-mail sent to Leissner’s Goldman Sachs address yielded an automatic reply saying: “I’m currently out of the office on personal leave with no access to emails.” It didn’t say when he will return to work. Calls to his mobile phone went to voice mail.

Leissner, a German national who is married to former U.S. fashion model and designer Kimora Lee Simmons, was instrumental in building Goldman Sachs’s business in Malaysia. The bank’s dealings with the country’s state-owned investment company, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., drew public scrutiny because of the high fees Goldman was paid.

1MDB Bonds

Three 1MDB bond sales in 2012 and 2013 totaling $6.5 billion yielded fees, commissions and expenses for Goldman Sachs of $593 million, or about 9.1 percent of the money raised, a person familiar with the matter said earlier. 1MDB subsequently became entangled in a political scandal due to its ballooning debts and ties with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Both the premier and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Leissner was appointed as head of investment banking in Singapore in August 2002 and was made a partner in 2006. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 as an executive director in its mergers advisory business.

Goldman Sachs worked on $18.8 billion of Malaysian mergers and acquisitions over the past five years, making it the top foreign adviser with a 20.3 percent market share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The New York firm was ahead of Bank of America Corp., which had a 15.8 percent share, and beat all local rivals except CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. and Malayan Banking Bhd.

The banker was involved in a number of large transactions such as billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan’s 2009 initial public offering of Maxis Bhd., the country’s largest wireless operator. Later that year, Goldman Sachs received a license from Malaysia’s Securities Commission to set up fund management and corporate finance advisory operations in the country.

Goldman Sachs ranked 17th last year among advisers on acquisitions involving Southeast Asian companies, down from fifth in 2014, the Bloomberg-compiled data show.

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