In the first hiring coup of 2003, Deutsche's equities division has struck again.

Deutsche has hired Steve Vrjelc to be head of its Australian equities business. What makes this more interesting is that Vrjelc was until last week the head of Morgan Stanley's Asian equities business.

Morgan Stanley's Asian equities business - comprising sales and trading - has made great strides under Vrjelc and has managed to gain commanding brokerage market shares in markets such as Korea.

However, Vrjelc - who is Australian - is thought to have been keen to return to Sydney and the Deutsche platform in Australia appealed.

Deutsche has 95 people in its Australian equities business - a legacy of its earlier acquisition of Bain - and has hired Vrjelc to replace Robin Yandle, who retires after 20 years.

The high profile hire confirms that Deutsche remains serious about building its equity platform in Asia-Pacific. Last year Ed Peter's Asian equities team upped its headcount by 22% and it is reckoned that Peter is still looking to expand.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley does not intend to replace Vrjelc. The seven managing directors in the equities business will report in to Steve Chamberlain, who has oversight for the Japan, Australia and Asian equities business.