In a move that suggests a new drive into China, JPMorgan has hired Carl Walter from CICC to be its chief operating officer for China.

Walter is an 'old China hand' if ever there was one. A fluent-Mandarin speaker, and a resident of Beijing for nearly as long as the Great Wall, he was one of only two non-Chinese working for China's top domestic investment bank. He was recruited by Morgan Stanley into CICC, its joint-venture investment bank, around 18 months ago, and held the position of COO.

Prior to that he had run CSFB's China operations.

At JPMorgan he will hope to leverage some of his relationships and local knowledge to help the firm break into the lucrative privatization market, which is predicted to pick up again in 2002.

It seems likely that JPMorgan and Walter forged a working relationship during the recent Emerson transaction, where both JPMorgan and CICC were advising the US firm on its $750 million purchase of Avensys - the first outright acquisition of a Chinese firm by a foreign multinational. The deal took nearly a year to complete and during this time, both CICC and JPMorgan had to seek approvals for the deal at the highest level.

Having seen how Walter performed on this landmark deal, it is likely that JPMorgan thought he would be the perfect person to steer its local Chinese business.

Walter is currently in New York, but will return to Beijing with JPMorgan in January.