Bank of America hiring spree buoys Merrill Lynch Asia arm

City A.M. Reporter
Bank of America (BofA) has embarked on a major hiring spree across Asia, aiming to expand in the fast growing region and revive the investment banking franchise that Merrill Lynch built before the financial crisis.

The push is a surprise to rivals who thought the bank would focus more on rebuilding its US business and a welcome sign for Merrill veterans in Asia who worried their new owner would fail to spend time or money to revive the Asia Pacific business.

BofA is understood to have hired Rajesh Melwani from UBS to be the Asia Pacific head of equity derivatives sales, based in Hong Kong. In another BofA poach, the bank is understood to have hired a real estate research team from Bell Potter Securities in Australia, led by veteran analyst Simon Garing.

The recruitment is roping in not just junior bankers filling seats that emptied after the crisis but, but targeting top level -- and expensive -- veterans of the industry.

“We have a long-term commitment to the most interesting growth region in the world: Asia,” said Brian Brille, president of Asia Pacific at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, without referencing specific hires. The bank would not comment on hires that have not been publicly disclosed.

The company’s corporate and investment banking, and sales and trading businesses operate under the Bank of America Merrill Lynch brand. BofA is the largest US bank by assets.