Two weeks ago Deutsche’s head of global investment banking Asia, Frank Nash told FinanceAsia: “I can commit to saying we will be a significant hirer in the upcoming months.”

More like ‘upcoming weeks’. The former BT Alex Brown banker, who arrived in Asia in March 2000, is clearly not a man given to empty promises.

This week Nash managed to hire star M&A banker Anthony Steains from ING Barings. Deutsche finally confirmed last night that Steains will join as a managing director and will be charged with building and running the firm’s M&A effort.

It is a measure of Deutsche’s seriousness that it has chosen to hire a man of Steains’ calibre and to do so at this time of year (ie, pre-bonus) when a big cheque book is required.

Steains is well known for his key relationships around Asia, particularly with the First Pacific Group. Like Nash, he reckons he will be a big hirer in the upcoming months. Just how big will be seen when bonuses are paid at ING Barings and other firms in February.

Says Steains: “I am excited at the opportunity to join what is a major global institution. Deutsche has demonstrated its commitment to this business. Obviously I had an excellent time at Barings and it was a difficult decision to leave.”

Steains had been with Barings in Asia for five years – a lifetime in the Asian M&A world – and prior to that at Coopers & Lybrand, where he was a corporate finance specialist. He was first approached by Deutsche six months ago, and will start in January.

Steains is part of Nash’s bigger game plan, and fits Nash’s view that M&A is going to be a key component of his business. He reckons that in the first six months of 1999, US and European M&A revenues were running at two times equity primary markets revenues. In Asia – where he notes it is harder to get data – he estimates that equity primary markets revenue was four times M&A revenues in the same period. Next year he believes the two will move towards parity in Asia.

“There is a shift going on in the relative importance of M&A in Asia,” says Nash. He will be hoping that a top hire like Steains can make sure that Deutsche plays a leading role in that shift.