Merrill looks to City for capital markets chief

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The Independent Online

Merrill Lynch has handed its most senior equity capital markets role to a London-based banker, highlighting the importance of the City to the Wall Street banks and proving that foreign appointments no longer have "stigma" for US institutions.

The investment bank has appointed Rupert Hume-Kendall as chairman of global equity capital markets, replacing Jim Birle. Mr Hume-Kendall, who started last week, will continue in his role of vice-chairman of investment banking for the group in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

He is the second major equities appointment in the City by a US investment bank in two months after Goldman Sachs appointed Matthew Westerman head of global equity capital markets in March.

An internal memo that circulated Merrill last week said: "Rupert will lead Merrill Lynch's senior-most equity capital markets efforts with key clients around the world. In addition, he will help us capitalise on the many emerging markets and global opportunities before us."

Mr Hume-Kendall, one of Merrill's most active dealmakers, has been at the group for a decade and worked in the equities, corporate broking and capital markets and financing teams.

Mr Hume-Kendall said: "Top end investment banks continue to develop rapidly outside their historic cores and are by their nature increasingly global."

Last year marked an increase of US banks moving global heads to Europe, as well as Asia, with similar moves by Goldman, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley.

European managers have been promoted as the business volumes in Europe have soared over the past 10 years, according to Mr Hume-Kendall.

One market expert added that in the past the US would not have looked abroad when appointing a global head. "As the importance of the business in Europe has increased, that stigma has disappeared," he said.

Another reason is that it provides a natural link to the emerging markets of Russia, the Middle East, India and China. London is often geographically best placed to provide access to capital markets for companies from these regions.

The equity capital market has been slow since the credit crunch, equities teams are seeing work in helping financial stocks rebuild their balance sheets with capital raising, especially among the banks. As well as financials, companies in the oils and mining businesses have been particularly focused on capital raising this year.