Merrill Lynch has taken a look at the positive regional markets and responded with a slew of new research and equity hires. The investment bank has announced a total of 14 new changes in the Asia-Pacific region, in what is described as part of an ongoing expansion of the research and equity sales teams. These new appointments follow a recent hard-line hiring strategy that netted Merrill Lynch 12 new employees in the Pacific Rim equities business.

The Asia-Pacific research side welcomes eight new faces into the fold throughout June.

Merrill Lynch's Singapore-based research team will be bolstered by the addition of Jenny Tan and Joel Ng. Tan comes to Merrill from Morgan Stanley Capital International and will focus on technology firms in Singapore and Malaysia.

Joining Tan on the Singapore and Malaysia technology team, Ng departs his Singapore technology and telecom research position at OCBC. Tony Raza, the recently appointed head of Singapore research and Tien Yu Sieh, head of Pacific Rim hardware and components technology research will oversee their activities.

The Jakarta office will also see two changes in its research department. Verdi Budiman takes on an augmented role as head of Indonesian research. Previously, Budiman was the ASEAN telecoms analyst for the investment bank.

Joseph Tobing will now look after the Indonesian consumer sector and strategy. Tobing joins Merrill from PT ABN AMRO Securities in Jakarta where he was an assistant director in the research department. He will report to the newly promoted Budiman and to David Errington, head of APR consumer/retail research.

Michael Chou moves across the straits from Daiwa Securities Taipei to Merrill Lynch Hong Kong. At Merrill, Chou will research regional semiconductor companies and report to Dan Heyler, head of Pacific Rim semiconductor research.

In Taiwan, Jonah Chen has taken a position as Merrill's new IC design analyst. Chen was previously a Taiwan semiconductor analyst for Yuanta Core Pacific Securities. He will also report to Dan Heyler and to Sophia Cheng, Merrill's Taiwan research head.

Heeyoung Shin joins the Seoul office and will concentrate on the Korean consumer sector. Merrill poaches Shin from Deutsche Securities Korea where she also covered the Korean consumer sector. Shin will report to both David Errington and Wonki Lee, head of Korea research.

Nicole Mehalski joins Merrill Lynch Australia from a London-based post with HSBC Securities. She will assist in the global banking coverage and brings experience in the UK and Irish banking sector. Mehalski will now report to Keith Irving, coordinator of global financials research.

On the equities side, Merrill brings six new employees into the organisation in the region.

Tim Last jumps to Merrill's Hong Kong office from JPMorgan where he focused on equity derivative sales. Last will cover a mix of hedge funds and traditional money managers. He brings eight years of Asian market experience to Merrill Lynch from his time at JPMorgan and Macquarie Bank.

Also shifting to the bank's Hong Kong office will be Gabriel Tam. Tam joins the convertible bond sales team from Lehman Brothers Hong Kong where he held a position in the derivatives department.

Taking on the country product manager role for Singapore and Malaysia will be Gus Cheah. He relocates from DBS in Singapore where he was head of institutional sales. Before his DBS position, Cheah worked in sales with Smith New Court and UBS, and as an analyst with James Capel. In total, Cheah brings 17 years of equity market experience to Merrill Lynch Singapore.

Jason Yong Kim leaps to Merrill from Deloitte and Touche. Kim will enter the bank in Seoul as a Korean specialist, covering international accounts.

Orion Leung and Jerry Yoon come into the equities derivatives team. Merrill pilfers Leung from JPMorgan to work in a specialist sales force focusing on trade ideas in the relative value space across the region. Yoon, on the hand, departs Deutsche's absolute return group for Merrill's equity team.

Merrill Lynch expects more hires in the region to be announced shortly.