CSFB has hired Wei Christianson to be a managing director of the firm's China investment banking division. The high profile move comes right from the top of the Swiss/US firm. According to sources close to the move, John Mack, CEO of CSFB held Christianson in extremely high regard during his time as CEO of Morgan Stanley. It is understood he personally led efforts to persuade her to leave Morgan and join him at CSFB.
Christianson was promoted to principal at Morgan Stanley in December 2001, but this was not enough to persuade her to stay. During her time at Morgan she was intimately involved in stellar successes including most recently China Unicom's IPO, Sinopec's IPO and Chalco's IPO. This brought her to Mack's attention as he has been a China bull for many years. He is known to be keen to build CSFB into a Mainland powerhouse in the same way he did with Morgan Stanley. Christainson is thought to be key to that strategy.
Christianson started out life as a lawyer and was one of the first Mainland students to study in the US. She gained an honours degree in foreign and international law from Columbia University and worked for a number of years as an attorney in the US.
In 1993, she moved to Hong Kong to work with Hong Kong's financial regulator, the SFC. But like so many other lawyers and regulators, she soon made the switch to investment banking, joining Bank of America and then Morgan Stanley where until last Saturday she was their chief representative in Beijing.
At CSFB she will also be based in Beijing and be responsible for the day-to-day coverage of the firm's Chinese client base. Last year, CSFB had severe political troubles on the Mainland when it took the Taiwanese finance minister on a roadshow. That slip up got the firm taken off the China Unicom secondary placement mandate as well as the Chalco IPO.
It will be interesting to see if the new hire will result in CSFB's re-admission to the Unicom deal, or indeed if an international deal happense at all. But with many other deals in the banking and power sectors coming to market in coming years, her contacts in the upper echelons of the Chinese government will be invaluable, as will her knowledge of the technicalities of running large international transactions for Chinese companies.
Christianson is understood to be on gardening leave at present and will officially start work in her new position on March 1. She is married to a partner at US law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom and has three children.