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CLSA's CEO joins chair in resigning as parent CITIC tightens control

Hong Kong

THE chief executive of brokerage CLSA Ltd has resigned with more management changes likely, people with direct knowledge of the matter said, as its parent, Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities Co Ltd (CITIC) , assumes more control.

Jonathan Slone's departure comes just two weeks after CLSA chairman Tang Zhenyi resigned from the Asia-focused broker, which state-backed CITIC bought in 2013.

The resignations resulted from CITIC's efforts to revamp CLSA's daily operations, one of the people said on Wednesday, declining to elaborate.

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The people declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. A CLSA spokeswoman confirmed Mr Slone's resignation but declined to disclose reasons or comment on other possible departures. CITIC did not respond to a request for comment.

The exits could signal another change in strategy at the broker, widely seen as CITIC's international arm with a mandate to wrest market share from global investment banks helped by its parent's roster of blue-chip Chinese clients bent on expansion.

CLSA, founded in 1986 by former journalists Jim Walker and Gary Coull, has pushed aggressively into investment banking in recent years as profit in its market-leading equity broking and research businesses were squeezed by competition and regulatory change.

Two years ago, the broker dropped CITIC from its name and reverted to CLSA, shortly after halving headcount in the United States with the closure of its equity research service.

It has also focused on broader Chinese initiatives, notably the government's Belt and Road campaign, to help fund infrastructure in over 60 countries.

Former chairman Mr Tang told Reuters last year that CLSA would add bankers in South-east Asia to capture Belt and Road business.

Mr Tang, who worked for China's Ministry of Finance and for the World Bank in Washington before joining CITIC Group in 2011, has been replaced by Zhang Youjun, who is also chairman of CITIC Securities.

Mr Slone joined CLSA in 1988 as regional research director, and oversaw CLSA's global operations in broking, investment banking, asset management, research and sales. He also led the firm's overseas expansion and set up its US operations in 1991.

Headquartered in Hong Kong, CLSA employs 2,000 people across 21 cities in Asia and Europe as well as in Australia and the United States, its website showed. REUTERS