BNP Paribas has unveiled a big push into Taiwan by announcing the high profile appointments of Peter Kurz and Joseph Yeh. Both new hires will be responsible for spearheading the French firm's drive and development of its newly formed brokerage and corporate finance businesses in Taiwan.

Kurz will join BNP as director, head of research for Taiwan, while Yeh comes on board as director, head of sales for Taiwan. In the newly created roles, Kurz will report to Stewart Callaghan, regional head of company research. Yeh, on the other hand, will report directly to Michael Bugel, head of Asia securities.

In launching its new Taiwan equity brokerage and corporate finance platform, BNP acquires the service of two of the most high profile investment bankers in Taiwan. The careers of the two gun hires run in virtual tandem, with both men previously holding senior positions at Barings and Merrill Lynch.

Kurz, who is widely referred in the domestic media as "Mr. Taiwan" counts the titles of former head of Barings and then of Merrill Lynch in Taiwan as highlights on his CV. He is also the founder of Insight Pacific Ltd, a Taiwan-based independent equity research firm.

Using his press-dubbed moniker, Kurz also founded an equity advisory sight known as MrTaiwan.com.

Yeh's CV similarly consists of a slew of senior positions within the Taiwan investment banking arena. He was the former head of sales at Barings Taiwan and held a similar position with Merrill Lynch. More recently, Yeh was employed by JPMorgan and held the title of head of JPMorgan Securities in Taiwan.

The hires represent a new chapter in BNP's Greater China equity and corporate finance business strategy. In Taiwan BNP has operated in a representative capacity for three years. Under the guidance of Kurz and Yeh and subject to regulatory approval, the firm will initially build a research product and envisages a fully built platform, complete with around eight analysts (including Kurz) by the first quarter of 2005.

Before the appointments, the firm's coverage was limited to two analysts that focused on the Taiwanese technology sector and was largely integrated with BNP's Korea and Greater China capabilities.

"The formation of an equity brokerage platform in Taiwan was a result of its growing importance in the regional MSCI indices," says Bugel. "It's also motivated by a long-held desire to increase investment in the Taiwanese market."

The hires became effective Monday of this week and judging by BNP's plans, more appointments can expected to be announced in the near future.