American investment bank, Merrill lynch has hired Jon Pratt, formerly of Credit Suisse, as its new head of debt capital markets Asia (ex-Japan, ex-Australia).

The move is quite the coup for Merrill Lynch, which is bringing aboard one of AsiaÆs most successful DCM bankers.

The move comes a few months after Merrill made moves to expand its debt client business. Pratt will fill the void left in the wake of the HSBCÆs recent hire of Spencer Lake. Lake had been just been promoted from head of debt origination for Asia-Pacific to head of Pacific-Rim debt capital markets before he was plucked for a senior London-based role by HSBC.

Pratt's hiring is part of Merrill's plan to become a major player in the high-grade bond space - and bolster it's league table standings.

Pratt will report to Sheldon Trainor, MerrillÆs head of Asia origination and will be based in MerrillÆs Hong Kong offices.

In the new role, Pratt will be responsible for enhancing and leading Merrill Lynch's debt origination business in the region. His duties will also include providing leadership to the overall Asia DCM efforts.

Pratt joined Credit Suisse in April 2000 as part of its DCM leadership team. In 2003, he took over as head of the DCM business for non-Japan Asia. Recently, he was named as one of three managing directors in Credit SuisseÆs global markets solutions group û an amalgamation of Credit SuisseÆs Asia-Pacific (ex-Japan) equity and debt capital markets group. He was responsible for the origination of all investment grade, sovereign and high yield debt in the Asia (ex-Japan and ex-Australia) region.

Pratt was involved in bringing the very first international debt market deal for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam last year, a deal that took the better part of five years to bring to market. He brings with him vast experience across a range of debt products in the investment grade, high-yield bond and sovereign spaces.

Pratt, along with head of syndicate Alister Moss, helped to build Credit SuisseÆs DCM business into one of the most successful franchises in the region. Last year, Credit Suisse ranked number four among Dealogic's top 10 bookrunners in Asia (ex-Japan, ex-Australia) G3 bond tables.

Credit Suisse is expected to announce a replacement for Pratt shortly.