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China Merchant Securities eyes top 10 spot in Hong Kong market


Wilson Wan (right) and Sam Lee aim to make a difference and change the game in the city's investment banking sector. Photo: Jonathan Wong


China Merchants Securities plans to add about 100 jobs at its Hong Kong unit this year in a bid to become one of the top 10 investment banks in the city for equity and debt capital market business.


Wilson Wan, the chief executive of China Merchants Securities (Hong Kong), said he aimed to double revenue at the unit in the next three years in working towards that goal, competing with the likes of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.


Commodities futures trading will also be a focus.


"We want to be one of the top 10 in Hong Kong's equity and debt capital markets and I believe we have the ability to do so given strong support from our parent group and close relationship with major mainland company clients," Wan told the South China Morning Post.


China Merchants Securities, a subsidiary of China Merchants Group, is the mainland's sixth-largest securities house by assets.


Wan, a veteran investment banker who took the helm in Hong Kong in July 2012, said he planned to bring the company's payroll to 470 by the end of this year under his hiring goal.


"We want to transform our business model from a conventional securities brokerage firm into a full-service investment banking platform," he said, adding the firm would focus on the so-called FICC business - fixed income, currencies and commodities - and leverage finance.


"That's the new direction for us to make a difference and change the game."


Hong Kong has been one of the world's most competitive battlefields for deal-hungry investment bankers in the past decade. Last year, it was ranked second for initial public offerings after New York, by capital raised.


In addition to Shanghai-listed Merchants Securities, the century-old industrial parent firm also controls China Merchants Bank, the mainland's sixth-largest by assets, and China Merchants Property Development, a major real estate company.


Head of research Sam Lee, who covered Asia's transport sector at Credit Suisse before joining Merchants Securities' Hong Kong unit last year, said the company aimed to fill some new positions in the research department, particularly to boost coverage in the insurance, property, gaming, technology and internet sectors.


"We're hiring analysts now. We are also searching for seasoned equity sales managers," he said.


Last year, Merchants Securities set up a subsidiary in London to expand into global capital and commodities markets, with a focus on derivatives.


Wan told the Post the company expected to gain clearing membership of the London Metal Exchange in the first half of this year and its London office would then add credit risk and compliance staff before starting full-scale operations.


"Our expansion plan in a commodity futures trading platform will also include Chicago and Singapore as trading hubs, where traders can take orders from over-the-counter markets or exchanges, such as LME and Chicago Mercantile Exchange," said Wan, a former senior banker at BOC International, the flagship offshore arm of Bank of China.


He said the commodity trading business would grow quickly to represent about 10 to 20 per cent of the broker's overall revenue this year.