There are few expatriate investment bankers who penetrate that inner-circle of trust surrounding Asia's great tycoons. One of the few gweilos to achieve this in recent years was Tim Dattels.

Dattels came out to Hong Kong in 1996, and as head of investment banking succeeded in building Goldman Sachs into a formidable force in Asia. He was instrumental in many of the firm's core relationships such as with KS Li.

In July 2000 he relocated to Menlo Park to run Goldman's US tech efforts. With the tech fallout, his talents were never fully utilised, and earlier this year he had a skiing accident where he broke his neck - an incident that led him to reassess the world from a position staring at the ceiling. After an 18 year career in investment banking, the accident proved a catalyst for considering the next challenge.

As a member of the 'partner generation' that became super-rich during the Goldman IPO, sources says he spent the Summer evaluating the future, in the fortunate position of having achieved a lot in his career and gained enormous financial security. Goldman offered him high level positions, but he has decided to retire instead.

Still relatively young, this is not retirement in the literal sense, although sources say he has ruled out working at another investment bank. Still phenomenally well known in Asia, there are many who speculate he might resurface in Asia. One option he is thought to be considering is using his network of contacts to establish a private equity firm focused on Asia, and particularly China.

In his last interview with FinanceAsia (in 2000) he noted: "Asia is now in my blood. I have had a great time here. Personally and professionally it has been the experience of a lifetime. I don't think I will be able to just walk away from it."