In 2000, Catherine Leung was selected by the senior management of JPMorgan as one of the 10 future leaders of the firm in Asia. Her departure to Merrill Lynch the next year didn't bode well for this prediction - until now.

Leung has boomeranged back to JPMorgan after a mere 18 months at Merrill to become the senior Hong Kong coverage officer. Having started on Wednesday she now says: "I am now more convinced about the universal banking platform that JPMorgan has to offer."

Leung was 'heritage' JPMorgan and left just as the merger with Chase was being consummated and uncertainty about the future direction of the firm was at its peak. She had spent seven years with the old JP and had graduated top of her class at the 1994 New York training programme. Her departure to Merrill was seen as a blow at the time.

Her return can equally be interpreted the opposite way. It is both a fillip and a coup for JPMorgan and may suggest its business model is proving a success. "When I left I had been with JPMorgan for a long time and I needed a fresh perspective," she says, "But I now, as I return, I am more and more convinced by the breadth of solutions that JPMorgan can offer clients."

It is thought that JPMorgan's co-head of investment banking, Bong Consing played a major part in persuading the prodigal banker to return. Leung is close to many top Hong Kong companies, and has worked on deals for firms such as Sino Land, Hysan Development and Bank of East Asia - as well as being close to the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation.