Joan Xia, who has over eight years experience covering mainland banking, first with FleetBoston and then UBS, will be responsible for building up business on the mainland. She will follow key companies, developing solutions to their long-terms strategic needs.

Yang Liu, former vice president of SG equity corporate finance in Hong Kong, will assist in developing SG's presence in the mainland utility sector. She was a key member in the $250 million Vivendi Water deal in May last year, when the company acquired a 50% stake in Shanghai Waterworks Pudong Company. Prior to SG Hong Kong, Liu was wtih PSEG Global, a leading US IPP. She will also be based in Beijing.

SG says it had a strong year in 2002: helping in the acquisition of Shanghai Waterworks Pudong Company, and participating in the gigantic $2.7 billion ethylene cracker project in Shanghai on behalf of BP.

SG's country head, the well-regarded Marc Poirier, says the appointments were driven by demand.

"We believe that China is an expanding market and want to ensure we have sufficient top-quality staff to focus on any upcoming opportunities," he says. "And with over $50 billion in foreign direct investment in China last year, it's clear there is a huge need for advisory and mergers and acquisition work."