In the latest in a series of moves by US investment banks to move their top bankers out of Asia, the affable Harry van Dyke is set to return to New York. Van Dyke has been based in Asia for six years and has built Morgan Stanley's M&A team from four persons in one office to a team of 40 in four locations.
As a managing director and head of M&A head, his arrival in Asia in October 1997 was timely given the restructuring needs of Asia in the wake of the crisis. During his tenure Morgan Stanley has worked on 199 M&A assignments with a combined value of $153.4 billion and by 2001 Morgan Stanley had moved to the top of M&A league tables.
He leaves on a high note with Morgan just announcing two major transactions: the Chinatrust acquisition of Grand Commercial ($570 million) and the sale of Loy Yang in Australia ($2.38 billion).
Says van Dyke: "Getting deals done in the face of the Asian crisis, the seemingly regular economic downturns and then SARS has convinced me that M&A will survive and more importantly flourish in Asia. The degree to which our business is rebounding from last year's lows is heartening."
Well regarded by his peers for his professionalism and his New York M&A background, van Dyke came to Asia after many years co-heading M&A in Latin America. Among his memories of Asia, presumably one of the less fond ones will be of the "black eye" flight he has had to regularly take to Seoul in the middle of the night. Indeed, the deal that probably took longest and will most endure in his memory was the sale of Daewoo Motor (eventually sold to General Motor last year) a deal that was originally envisioned to take three weeks and took more than three years and no small number of "black eye" flights. More recently, his energies have been devoted to an equally challenging Korean deal - albeit shorter in duration - the sale of Chohung Bank to Shinhan Financial.
Van Dyke will relocate to New York where he will be in charge of M&A for financial sponsors. He says he will miss Asia, and the complexity of deals in the region. "I will miss the energy and excitement of working in Asia," he says. "Building a business in a rapidly growing environment has been great fun."
When asked what he will least miss about the region, he admits Korean karoake would be a contender for top spot, although it is thought he will perform his version of the Rhinestone Cowboy in Seoul next week when he attends a signing.
His replacement will be Gokul Laroia, who was previously joint-head of telecoms banking and will relocate from Singapore to Hong Kong for his new role.