After months of behind-the-scene deliberation, Merrill Lynch has finally named its new chairman of Asia Pacific Region. Raymundo Yu will take over from Kevan Watts, who moved to London to become global co-head of the investment banking group in April. Yu will also continue his responsibilities as head of the international private client group for Asia Pacific and Australia.

In his new position, Yu will dictate the firm's strategy in Asia and he will become the chairman of the executive committee for the region. Yu has been with Merrill Lynch since 1981, when he joined the group as a management trainee. His first position was as a marketing officer. He has run the private client group in Asia since 1992, during which time the gross assets under Merrill Lynch's management have soared by nearly 700%.

Merrill has also announced that it has appointed Asaf Abbas as chief operating officer for Asia Pacific,áwhich will complement his current role of chief administrative officer.

Yu's promotion reflects the increasing importance of private client business to Merrill Lynch in Asia over recent years. While the firm maintains a strong position in the traditional investment banking disciplines of debt and equity underwriting, mergers and acquisitions, and trading, it has been aggressively building up its capabilities in the private client arena. That trend looks set to continue.