Go Gokul!

Morgan Stanley promotes Gokul Laroia to run its GCM division and moves Max Blandon to a new leveraged finance position.

Having jumped from the number two position in the telecoms group to head of Asian global capital markets in little over two years, Gokul Laroia's star certainly seems to be on the ascendant. Morgan Stanley announced yesterday that Laroia is to be the firm's new head of global capital markets for the region, promoting him from his current position as head of Asian M&A.

Global capital markets is the term Morgan Stanley uses for its combined equity and debt capital markets team.

Taking his place as head of Asian M&A will be Matt Hanning, who is presently head of investment banking for Morgan Stanley in Australia. Hanning will relocate from Sydney to Hong Kong and be replaced in Australia by Rick Ball who is returning to the firm after a sabbatical.

Laroia leaves the M&A role at a time when Morgan Stanley sits at the top of the M&A league tables for volume of deals done. Not being from a dedicated equity or debt background, however, shows that the firm sees the GCM role as more of a client-facing one rather than an execution position.

Laroia fills the gap left by Danny Palmer who earlier this year decamped to HSBC in perhaps the highest paid move by any Asian banker in 2004. Palmer's co-head of GCM was Max Blandon who has been moved to a new position as head of leveraged finance for the region. In this position he will be returning to a product he knows well, having been in leverage finance roles in the US and Latin America before coming to Asia.

His new position will see him cover Asia and Japan, based in Hong Kong. He will use the firm's balance sheet, out of its Utah based banking subsidiary, for tactical lending to clients in situations such as leveraged buyouts.

"We're constantly striving to extend and enhance the solutions we bring to our clients in the region," says Mike Berchtold, President and Head of Investment Banking for Asia Pacific. "This initiative deepens our capital markets platform and means we can provide increasingly more sophisticated balance sheet management, capital raising and risk management solutions to our clients."

Prior to Laroia's move, Morgan Stanley relocated of Chris "Buddha" Hunt, an executive director in equity capital markets, from London to Hong Kong about a month ago. Hunt will become the firm's new head of equity syndicate replacing Scott Greenberg, who will specialise in equity-linked origination.