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RHB Bank appoints UBS Asset's James Yeo as regional head of M&A

Kuala Lumpur

RHB Bank Bhd, the fifth-biggest Malaysian lender by market value, has hired UBS Group AG's James Yeo as regional head of mergers and acquisitions.

Mr Yeo, 48, will start in the Kuala Lumpur-based role on Aug 23, the bank said in an emailed statement on Wednesday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report. He was previously head of institutional client coverage for South-east Asia at UBS Asset Management, according to the statement.

RHB is seeking to boost its share of M&A advisory work in South-east Asia, where it trails local rivals including Malayan Banking Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. The firm's revenue from corporate and investment banking has fallen for each of the past three years, while revenue from its core retail banking franchise has been roughly flat, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Mr Yeo will focus on building the regional M&A business for RHB, in addition to providing industry expertise to support the group's customers across the transport, logistics and infrastructure sector. Before joining UBS, Mr Yeo was a director at Bank of America Corp covering Singapore investment banking. He was earlier with Deutsche Bank AG, where he oversaw South-east Asian industrials, according to his LinkedIn profile.

RHB ranked sixth among advisers on M&A deals involving Malaysian companies last year, with a 5.4 per cent market share. The hire comes after two of RHB's most senior dealmakers decided to leave the firm. Head of M&A Soon Poh Lean and one of his key lieutenants, a director on the M&A team named Theresa Lim, have resigned from the Malaysian bank. BLOOMBERG

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