Angus Macpherson, Merrill's head of Asian capital markets, is leaving the firm this July for a one-year break before returning to the UK when his oldest son starts school. His departure has been planned for a while, but was only announced in an internal memo yesterday (Thursday).

In his place, close friend and former colleague Ian Carton returns to Asia to run the combined debt and equities group. Carton will manage a team, which has seen a number of changes in recent weeks. Rod Sykes has just been recruited from ING to head of Asian debt capital markets, while Ken Poon left last week to become head of equity capital markets at Citigroup.

Including Australia, the full team encompasses about 20 bankers, or about 15 without. It numbers two MDs (Carton and Sykes) and about 10 people working in Hong Kong, of whom about eight work in ECM and only two in DCM. As a result, it seems likely Carton will retain an ECM focus.

In addition to the combined equities and debt group, Carton will also have partial oversight over the structured solutions group, which combines equity and debt derivatives. The other reporting line runs into Anthony Hung, head of Asian fixed income.

Carton is currently based in London where he has a broad origination role covering Scandinavia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, plus TMT and healthcare. He left Asia in 2001 after working with Macpherson for many years in Asian ECM and before that at Smith New Court, ahead of its acquisition by Merrill.

Macpherson has been in the region since 1995, working in Hong Kong for three years, then Singapore for two, before returning to Hong Kong in 2000. During his time, Merrill has been consistently towards the top of the Asian equity league tables and until recently had a near monopoly over business in Thailand and India, as well as an extremely strong franchise in Hong Kong and China.

Over the coming year, he plans to spend some time with his architect wife and two children in the Dordogne, before re-discovering his Scottish roots, then camping out for the ski season in Verbier. As yet he is undecided whether to return to the financial markets next summer, or branch out into a new career.