Goldman’s Ex-Southeast Asia Chairman Leissner Leaves Firm

  • 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, left the firm earlier this month.

His departure was confirmed by Goldman Sachs spokesman Edward Naylor, who said the firm moved Leissner’s headcount to the U.S. at the end of last year. Naylor declined to comment further.

Leissner, who had been with Goldman Sachs for almost 18 years and was most recently chairman of its Southeast Asia operations, relocated to Los Angeles on personal leave, people familiar with the matter said last month.

The 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 Sachs was paid.

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.

A message sent to the banker’s Goldman Sachs e-mail address was bounced back to the sender. Two calls to Leissner’s Singapore mobile phone weren’t answered.

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 20.5 percent market share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The New York firm was ahead of Bank of America Corp. and beat all local rivals except CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. and Malayan Banking Bhd.

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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