In a further move to beef up its China coverage, JPMorgan has hired Kester Ng from Merrill Lynch to become co-head of equity capital markets.

Ng, who was managing director in ECM at Merrill with a specific focus on Hong Kong and China, will start in two to three months after a period of gardening leave. He will replace Rupert Fane who will move to London to become head of equity syndicate for Europe and Asia.

Ng, who is known as something of a workaholic, has been with Merrill since 1995 and has worked on a large number of China transactions for the bank, including this yearÆs listing of Nine Dragons Paper and the IPOs of Shenhua Energy, Dongfeng Motor and Air China.

He will already be familiar with several of his co-workers at JPMorgan - since China coverage bankers Fang Fang and Charles Li and Head of Hong Kong Investment Banking Catherine Leung all came from Merrill.

Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan recently also worked together on the IPO for Great Eagle spin-off Champion REIT and at the end of last year they jointly brought Cheung Kong-backed Prosperity REIT to market.

Being Hong Kong Chinese and fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin, NgÆs appointment fits well with JPMorganÆs strategy of hiring locals with experience from international investment banks in the US, Europe or Hong Kong for key positions in its Asian business.

Prior to joining Merrill, Ng also worked at Goldman Sachs and UBS.

Meanwhile, FaneÆs promotion to head of syndicate in London for both Europe and Asia is seen as an attempt by the firm to add more value to Asia at the same time as it is beefing up its syndicate in Europe.

One of only a handful of survivors at the firm from Jardine Fleming (merged into JPMorgan and Chase in 2000), Fane has worked both in equity sales and at the syndicate desk before he became co-head of ECM together with Jonathan Back in November 2003. More recently he has been focusing specifically on Hong Kong and China.

While he wonÆt officially be starting in his new position until Ng is free to start his job, Fane was recently over in London to work on a share placement for Switzerland-based mining company Xstrata. JPMorgan Cazenove was joint bookrunner together with Deutsche Bank for the $2.5 billion deal and Fane ran the book.

The current head of syndicate for Europe will be reporting to Fane.

JPMorgan is currently fourth in the leage tables for equity issuance in Asia ex-Japan, according to Dealogic. Prior to the Bank of China IPO it actually topped the table for China/Hong Kong, which is a big step up from its 10th placing last year.

The bankÆs head of capital markets for Asia, Sean Wallace, told FinanceAsia last week that the firm's pipeline is strong and he believes the bank has a shot at doing at least another 16 deals before the end of this year.