BNP Paribas restructures Asia wealth management division

BNP Paribas announces a new coverage plan for wealth management in Asia-Pacific under Mignonne Cheng as Thierry Dana relocates to Europe.

Thierry Dana has relinquished charge of wealth management for North Asia at BNP Paribas after less than 18 months and the bank is using his relocation to announce a new structure for its wealth management business in Asia-Pacific.

The latest changes seem to signal another attempt by the French bank to fine-tune the way it covers a region that it has defined as strategically important. Dana was appointed chief executive officer of wealth management for Hong Kong and North Asia quite recently, in October 2009. He replaced Claude Haberer who was re-assigned to handle key wealth management clients. Both Dana and Haberer reported to Serge Forti who was appointed CEO of BNP Paribas wealth management for Asia-Pacific at the end of 2008. BNP announced this morning that Haberer was leaving the bank after a three-decade career, of which half was spent in Asia.

Dana was specifically charged with increasing the wealth management division's presence in the North Asian markets. He will now join the management team of BNP Paribas' wealth management international European unit in Geneva, although details of that role have yet to be finalised.

BNP Paribas said in a written statement that the reorganisation is intended to enhance focus on the countries in the Asia-Pacific region in which it sees the greatest market potential. Towards this end, each focus country/region will have its own market head. Hong Kong is to be headed by Serge Janowski; China will have its own head, who has yet to be appointed; Taiwan is to be headed by Henry Pang; India, including non-resident Indians, will be headed by Stephane Honig; Singapore, including Malaysia and Indonesia, will be led by Forti; and international and other Asian markets (including Korea, the Philippines and Thailand) will be headed by Eric Morin.

Janowski and Forti will respectively become CEOs for the bank's wealth management businesses in Hong Kong and Singapore. Janowski's appointment is subject to regulatory approvals.

All the market heads will report regionally to Mignonne Cheng. Cheng took over as chairman and CEO of wealth management for Asia-Pacific in September last year. Her appointment followed a restructuring of BNP Paribas' global wealth management business in which Asia-Pacific was defined as a key geographic zone. Cheng joined BNP in 1990 in Hong Kong. In 2004 she became region manager for North Asia, a position she continues to hold alongside her wealth management responsibilities.

BNP has also created a dedicated ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWI) unit in Asia-Pacific. The head of this new unit has yet to be announced. Both China and the UHNWI unit will be directly managed by Cheng until heads are appointed.

BNP has also appointed Ernest Leung as head of strategy and business development for wealth management for the Asia-Pacific region. Leung will work with the market heads to develop and monitor business initiatives. Stephanie Lair continues to head products and services for wealth management for the region, but her role has been expanded to also include wealth planning services and trust and fiduciary services for Asia.

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