Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MSDW) has announced the appointment of four new senior bankers to join its Asian M&A team.

  • James Pearson joins as an executive director from ABN Amro in Hong Kong where he was head of the bank's Asian M&A practice. He will be based in Hong Kong.    
  • Nigel Jones joins as an executive director from Schroders. He will be based in Singapore.    
  • Matthew Hanning joins as an executive director from Clayton Utz where he was an M&A lawyer. He will be based in Sydney.    
  • Patrick Lee joins as a vice-president from CSFB. He will be based in Singapore.

In addition to the four senior appointments, MSDW has hired a whole raft of new associates and analysts to the M&A practice, bringing the total number of bankers in the M&A team to 60. This is a 30% increase in the headcount over last year.

However, the firm organizes its M&A practice slightly differently from other houses in that it includes execution bankers and financiers in the group, which is called the mergers, acquisitions and restructuring group. Harry Van Dyke, head of ex-Japan Asian M&A at MSDW, believes this combination allows the firm to address its Asian clients better, as many clients do not want just pure M&A advice.

Nevertheless, the new hires reflect the rapid growth in the use of M&A in Asia. "The growth in our Asian M&A business has been better than any of us expected," says Van Dyke. "The M&A market has grown significantly over the past 18 months, with both intra-Asia and intercontinental assignments of all kinds."

Recent figures released by Thomson Financial Securities Data show that in the first half of 2000, mergers and acquisitions came to a value of $87 billion – a 117% growth over the same period last year. MSDW has worked on three of the biggest deals. It advised Telstra on the potential joint ventures with PCCW. It advised Hansol M.com on its purchase by Korea Telecom. And it advised Singapore Power on its purchase of GPU's Australian power assets.

Van Dyke believes that key to the growth in his business is that Asian companies are seeing the value in M&A and they are now willing to pay the sometimes hefty fees that international advisers command. "We have seen that an increasing number of Asian companies see the value of having a firm like Morgan Stanley on their side during a franchise-defining transaction. Importantly for our business, companies here are generally happy to pay for the value we bring at levels similar to those our clients in the US and Europe are used to."