Morgan Stanley has lost another of its top bankers in the region with Shamus Hassan set to leave the bank to head up the Asia resources investment banking division at rival Merrill Lynch.

Hassan, who has been responsible for energy and basic materials within the General Industries Group at Morgan Stanley, will be the second person to leave the bank for Merrill in recent weeks after former head of Asia Pacific real estate Timothy Grady quit in December.

Grady and Hassan will rejoin their former Morgan Stanley colleague Sheldon Trainor, who was hired by Merrill as head of Asia Pacific Investment Banking last year and is believed to have been instrumental in convincing the two to jump ship.

Hassan, who has been something of a deal maker at Morgan Stanley working with companies like Sinopec Corp in China and Petronas in Malaysia, will be reporting directly to Trainor. Notwithstanding his reputation as one of Asia's best relationship bankers in the GIG space, Hassan failed to become an MD at Morgan Stanley at the end of last year. This is believed to be one of the main reasons why he decided to quit the firm.

A spokesman at Merrill declined to comment on the matter, but Hassan is believed to have signed on as a managing director for his new employer yesterday (January 23), although it is still unclear when he will start.

Hassan is the latest in a string of high-profile bankers to depart Morgan Stanley's Asian operations recently. Among the other defectors are the bank's head of China investment banking Jonathan Zhu and the head of the firm's securities joint venture in India, Mickey Doshi.

Zhu will join Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital, while Doshi will go to Credit Suisse where he will be responsible for re-building the bank's broking business in India.