Merrill Lynch has appointed Chris Richter as director and head of Pacific Rim auto research team. Richter will be based in Tokyo and will also hold the role of senior analyst for Japanese autos and auto parts.

He will report to Hun Soo Kim, head of the firm's Pacific Rim equity research team.

"Chris is highly regarded by colleagues and investors alike for his deep industry knowledge, dedicated client service and detailed accurate earnings forecasts and valuations models," says Kim.

Richter will take charge of Merrill's effort to role out a dedicated Pacific Rim autos research product. He will oversee a team of country auto analysts including David Fandrich and Kei Miyashita in Japan and Mark Yoon in Korea.

Richter joins Merrill from HSBC, where he earned his reputation as a top-ranked Japan auto sector analyst.