Investec names new head for Australian investment banking arm

JOHANNESBURG Thu Jan 30, 2014 6:12am EST

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JOHANNESBURG Jan 30 (Reuters) - South African lender and asset manager Investec has appointed a veteran banker to run its Australian investment banking arm, the latest attempt to turn around the loss-making business.

Investec has named senior corporate adviser Ben Smith to succeed Christian Nicks, who resigned from his position as head of the unit after four years, the bank said on Wednesday.

Investec has cut 80 jobs in Australia and closed some of its operations at the unit, which in 2012 accounted for 11 percent of group revenue, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Last year, the group dispatched its head of private banking, Ciaran Whelan, to Australia as interim chief executive after the departure of David Clarke.

Investec has said it wants to scale back its Australian business to focus on a few areas including corporate advisory, property funds and project finance.

It is also considering a sale of the unit's professional finance and asset financing operations.

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