Although he has spent the past four years working in DCM, Stoddard's background is leveraged finance and indeed, he first came to Asia in August 1998 with the aim of bringing his expertise to the region. When it soon became clear that the sector was still very much in its infancy he transferred to debt syndicate in December the same year, forging a close working relationship with then DCM head Sam Poon, who now co-heads of Asian investment banking.

Rick StoddardSince early 2001, he has been head of the issuer client group (debt origination), working alongside fellow managing director Anthony Hung, who heads the investor client group (sales). The structure was set up to form a more cohesive way of running the debt business, with one group focusing on any potential business from the issuer side (including structured transactions and derivatives), while the other looks after investors (including selling products such as credit-linked notes).

Stoddard leaves behind a team of 11 (including three working on structured finance and derivatives). During his time in Hong Kong, he has witnessed the birth of his third child while talking tactics on his mobile with Poon (the wife suggested half jokingly that the baby be called Nokia), twice completed the Territory's arduous 100km MacLehose Trail (breaking the 20 hour barrier in 2001) and will be fondly remembered for his lead guitar playing skills with Merrill's one-time in-house band, the Raging Bulls.

Anthony HungStoddard's departure sees Hung promoted to head both the issuer and client groups, reporting to Terence Tsang, head of debt for Merrill Lynch in the Asia Pacific region. Hong Kong born Hung has been at the firm for nine years with a background predominantly in sales. Stoddard himself will not be replaced with a new MD, but the firm is said to have recently hired a couple of new originators at the director level to fill out the ranks.