Morgan Stanley confirmed on Tuesday (January 31) that it has hired Citigroup's Wei Christianson as new managing director and China CEO to replace Jonathan Zhu, who left the bank for a private equity house in the first week of January.

Christianson's return to Morgan Stanley, where she worked between 1998 and 2002 as executive director and Beijing chief Representative, had been widely rumoured and was first reported by FinanceAsia on January 9. Christianson is an old friend of the bank's new global chairman and CEO, John Mack, who took the helm in late spring last year following a top-level shake-out.

Christianson and Mack worked together at Morgan Stanley in the early part of the decade when Mack was global president and CEO. When Mack left for Credit Suisse First Boston in July 2001, Christianson followed him there.

In her new role at Morgan Stanley, Christianson, who will be based in Beijing, will be responsible for the oversight and global coordination of all the bank's business activities in the mainland. She will also be a member of Morgan Stanley's Asia Pacific Executive Committee.

She will leave a job as chairman of China for Citigroup Global Markets (Asia), which she took up in September 2004. Prior to that she was chairman of China and country manager for CSFB - a position she left in June 2004 when John Mack was ousted from the bank.

Morgan Stanley's chairman and CEO, Alasdair Morrison, said in a written statement that he was "delighted" that Christianson was returning to the bank. "Her appointment reinforces our commitment to our clients and to this significant growth market, and will help the firm build on the tremendous success we have had in China," he said.

A lawyer by training, Christianson has advised on many landmark transactions in China, including the initial public offerings of China Life, Sinopec, SMIC, Chalco, Sinotrans and China Oilfield Services. She has also led the execution of several significant M&A transactions involving Chinese companies.

Working at Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission in the early 1990s, she was part of the team responsible for drafting the rules allowing Chinese companies to list in Hong Kong.