Viswanthan Shankar is leaving CLSA a bare four weeks after moving there from Bank of America.. It is understood that he is to take up another position at another bank in the role of global head of M&A advisory based either in Hong Kong or in Singapore. His new employer's name has not yet been announced.
Shankar was previously head of investment banking at Bank of America. When that bank announced its intention to get out of the Asian investment banking market, Shankar and four of his team decamped to CLSA to set up a mezzanine financing unit. It now appears that he was still talking to other institutions while unpacking his bags at CLSA.
CLSA regards the move as amicable and is keen to work with Shankar at his next place of employment. "We regard this as an orderly and mutual conclusion," says Rodney Smyth, CEO of CLSA in Hong Kong. "We think there is a pretty good chance that we will be working with Shankar at the next place. There is room for co-operation."
Shankar claims that the global platform of the new bank was extremely alluring as was the opportunity to build up a new business. "The challenge of building something greenfield coupled with the fact that it was going to be on a broader, global platform seemed very attractive," he said. No headhunters are thought to be involved in either of his recent moves.
Replacing him at CLSA will be Amitabh Chaudhry who was Shankar's right hand man at Bank of Amercia and one of the four who joined CLSA with Shankar last month. He will run CLSA's mezzanine financing unit which will form part of its corporate finance capabilities. Chaudhry will also head up a new technology investment banking unit at CLSA.
CLSA last year secured an $8 billion credit line from its parent, French bank Credit Lyonnais. This line will enable the bank to offer mezzanine or bridge financing to its corporate clients. This cabability is increasingly important in winning advisory mandates, as well as being potentially very profitable. "Unless you can offer the full mix of solutions, it is very hard to turn advisory into full-blown M&A," says Smyth. "In this market you see a lot of deals where you need a mix of debt and equity even if the eventual take out is equity." Even though Shankar has left, Smyth confirms that the strategy will remain.