UPDATE 1-Natixis joins banks in hiring M&A, fund-raising experts amid deals spurt

Wed Jul 9, 2014 3:31am EDT

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(Recasts, adds details of banks' hiring in Asia and deal volumes)

By Lawrence White

HONG KONG, July 9 (Reuters) - Natixis has joined a growing list of investment banks in hiring experts to advise their clients on capital raising and merger and acquisitions in the Asia-Pacific, particularly for the banking and insurance sector where deals have surged.

The French lender named Eddie Leung as its regional head of insurance coverage for the Asia-Pacific on Wednesday. Leung was previously at HSBC, where he worked in the global banking and markets division.

Such financial institutions group (FIG) bankers are in high demand for their advice on capital raising and merger deals by banks and insurers. The financials sector was Asia's busiest in both equity raising and mergers activity in the first half of the year, according to Thomson Reuters data.

On Tuesday, Credit Suisse Group said it had appointed Sharhan Muhseen as head of financial institutions group for Southeast Asia.

In May, Goldman Sachs relocated John Mahoney to Hong Kong to become head of its financial institutions unit in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch hired former UBS banker Patrick Porritt for the equivalent role.

In the first half, the financials sector captured 17 percent of equity issued with $14.9 billion raised, ahead of industrials, while in M&A financials accounted for 21 percent of announced deals, Thomson Reuters data shows.

Those figures include the massive $36 billion purchase of assets by China's CITIC Pacific Ltd (0267.HK) from its state-owned parent.

Beyond such mega-deals, however, investment banks have been bolstering their coverage of financial firms in Asia in anticipation of more deals to come this year.

A planned law allowing foreign firms to take full control of Philippine lenders is attracting suitors from Malaysia and Japan, with more deals expected in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, Chinese banks are poised to raise a record $120 billion in the next two years to shore up their balance sheets.

Bankers also say Hong Kong's bank sector could also see more deals, following Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd's $5 billion acquisition of Wing Hang Bank Ltd, announced in April. (Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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