Ralph Parks, JPMorganÆs top man in Asia, will give up his day-to-day management role to focus all his resources on clients and to develop strategic opportunities for the US firm in the region, including potential joint ventures.

Parks will retain his position as chairman for Asia Pacific, a job he has held for five years and which aside from overseeing the investment banking business have also included the management of the private banking and asset management divisions. He is also a member of the firm's Executive Committee.

The day-to-day management work, will be taken over by Gaby Abdelnour, who has been appointed chief executive officer of the Asia Pacific region. He will also become a member of the Investment Bank Management Committee.

Abdelnour is currently head of investment banking coverage for corporate clients in Western Europe and also oversees the firmÆs investment banking activities in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. He does have experience from Asia, however, having worked five years in Hong Kong and Singapore as a managing director at Merrill Lynch prior to joining JPMorgan in 1998.

He will be reporting to Steven D. Black and Bill T. Winters, who are co-CEOs of the Investment Bank and will be transferring to Hong Kong during the summer.

Parks, 62, will hand over the daily responsibilities at a time of strength, which is perhaps most noticeable within equity capital markets where the firm has made great strides in the all important China market over past year.

Having just about squeezed into the league table top 10 last year, the firm has had a strong first half and according to its own estimates, it holds over a dozen IPO mandates for the second half this year and 2007, covering a range of industries such as banking, insurance, power & energy, chemicals, coal & mining, shipping and heavy industry.

Within mergers & acquisitions, the bank has been involved in several high-profile transactions in recent years, including helping China Netcom in its acquisition of a $1 billion stake in PCCW and advising CLP on its purchase of Singapore PowerÆs Australian energy business for $1.7 billion.

It also acted as adviser to CNOOC in its $19.6 billion bid for US oil producer Unocal, which did fail, but broke a lot of new ground that is poised to open the door for other Chinese companies looking for acquisitions overseas in the future.

Earlier this month FinanceAsia named JPMorgan ôBest Foreign Investment Bank in Hong Kong 2006ö as part of our country awards.

On the asset management side, JPMorganÆs joint venture with Shanghai International Trust and Investment Co (in which the US firm holds 49%) which was formed in May 2004 is now the biggest Sino-foreign asset manager in China with Rmb11.9 billion ($1.5 billion) worth of assets.

ôRalph has done an excellent job running the region for the past five years,ö Bill Winters says in a written statement. ôHe will continue to play a vital role in the strategic direction for the region, partnering with Gaby and the management team to build our client franchise, source attractive investments and explore alliances in local markets.ö

Parks has more than 35 years experience in investment banking. Prior to joining JPMorgan in 2000, he was a partner at the Beacon Group and before that, a partner at Goldman Sachs.

Abdelnour, a dual Lebanese and British national, has specialised in providing merger and acquisitions advice to corporates and governments in the sale of strategic assets. During his five years with Merrill, he worked on M&A and restructuring in the telecom and energy sectors and also lead the bankÆs high-yield debt effort in Asia.