CitiÆs global transaction services group poached Lyle Williams from Deutsche Bank to head up Asia-Pacific direct custody and clearing product development.

The bank says the appointment ties in neatly with first-quarter expansion plans to roll out third-party clearing services for equities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan.

Mike Sleightholme, managing director and head of direct custody and clearing for Asia Pacific at Citi, says Williams has been appointed to oversee those expansion plans.

"The regulators and exchanges are allowing third-party clearing for the first time in this region," Sleightholme explains. "This arrangement offers new possibilities for exchange members who don't want to run their own back-office infrastructure. Via third-party clearing they can access these markets more easily and on a variable cost basis. As a result we see a lot of demand from brokers and banks."

Williams replaces Mike Drumgoole who left three months ago to join SetClear in Singapore, a new company of CLSA Group that offers trade settlement and agency-clearing for buy-side investors and international broker/dealers.

With 15 years experience under his belt, Williams previously headed up custody and clearing operations at rival Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong. Sources at the German bank say he has not yet been replaced.

For Williams, the move also represents a return to his beginnings: his career launched in London with Citibank, providing global custody services to insurance and reinsurance clients.