ABN Amro says it is preparing for significant growth in Asia's equity markets and has made a raft of new appointments. The recruitment drive is region-wide with new hires in Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Jakarta, Taipei and Seoul, reflecting a new mood of optimism for Asia in 2004 and beyond.

In Mumbai, ABN has poached Avadhoot Sabnis from Citigroup. He will cover oil, gas and petrochemical research and report to Michael Baptista, the bank's regional head of research.

Also joining the bank in Mumbai are analysts Prafull Rai, from Indian brokerage ENAM Securities, and S Varatharajan, from Credit Suisse First Boston. Rai will cover the Indian auto industry and Varatharajan will be working with both the oil and gas and mining, engineering, transport and utility teams..

Jeff Tse joins the Hong Kong trading desk from UBS, where he traded Hong Kong/China, TIP equity markets and Taiwan, India and Korea GDRs. Wee Kiat Tan will join the Hong Kong research team as a senior analyst covering oil, gas and petrochemicals stocks. He has previously worked with Deutsche Bank and CSFB.

Joseph Tobing, one of Jakarta's leading research analysts, leaves CLSA to cover the consumer, building materials, pharmaceuticals and Astra International sectors.

The new hires follow the appointment in March of Alastair Barr to head up ABN's equities team for Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Prior to the latest hiring spree the bank added new people in Taipei and Seoul. "We are excited to attract such high calibre staff and to continue to build the franchise in the region," he says. “We expect to announce more appointments shortly."

In tandem with the influx of fresh blood ABN also made some internal transfers. Jamie Boyton and Mark Priestley have moved to Hong Kong from Australia. Boyton will head the hedge fund sales team while Priestley takes on the role of COO for Asian and Australasian equities. Kevan Crosthwaite has left London to become head of client account management for Asia Pacific, to be based in Singapore, where he will also be a member of ABN's Asian Equity Management Committee. All three will report to Barr.

Manish Srivastava and Helen Zhu have been appointed as co-heads of the Asian telcos research team in Hong Kong and Preetie Kohli will be moving from equity sales in India to Singapore.