* China veteran back at Merrill after stint at BNP Paribas
* Ren is daughter-in-law of former China premier Zhao
By Lawrence White and Michael Flaherty
HONG KONG, Oct 16 Bank of America Corp
hired veteran China banker Margaret Ren as chairman of its China
business, a memo obtained by Reuters on Tuesday showed, bringing
her back into the Merrill fold at a time when the bank is trying
to expand its business inside the country.
BofA has moved to cut staff in Asia and streamline its
business, though it has also embarked on the hiring of several
senior bankers this year, including the signing of ex-Deutsche
Bank regional markets chief Loh Boon Chye, and UBS
M&A banker Stephen Gore.
Ren, who will be responsible for the firm's strategic
direction in China, was the China investment banking Chairman
for Merrill Lynch from 2007 to 2009. Since then she has worked
at BNP Paribas as chairman for corporate finance, Greater China.
Ren is the daughter-in-law of former China premier Zhao
Zhiyang, and was a China rainmaker at Citigroup until she
left the bank in 2004.
A Bank of America spokesman confirmed the contents of the
memo, but declined to comment further.
Under the leadership of former UBS global markets head
Matthew Koder, BofA's Asia operation has sought to bring its
corporate bank closer to its investment bank, leveraging the
core business at the heart of the Charlotte, North
Carolina-based company, with the dealmakers it acquired as part
of the Merrill purchase in 2008.
BofA operates in China as Bank of America NA China, with
branches in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. The bank does not
have a stake in a Chinese securities joint venture.
Bank of America sold most of its remaining stake in China
Construction Bank for around $6.6 billion
in cash in November last year, leaving it with a 1 percent
holding of the Chinese lender's common shares.
Prior to Merrill, Ren was a high-profile banker at
Citigroup. She was suspended by the bank in June 2004 over an
inquiry into the December 2003 $3.5 billion IPO of China Life
Insurance Co .
Ren left Citigroup soon after the suspension and was cleared
of any wrongdoing by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission