eFC Briefing: Duff & Phelps Launches New Practice

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Duff & Phelps moves into special situations. Morgan Stanley names new head in Asia. Citigroup's China chief departs for DBS Group.

Advisory boutique Duff & Phelps launched a special situations M&A practice, formalizing its existing service of arranging transactions between troubled companies and distressed-investing funds run by hedge funds, private equity firms and institutions. The practice centers around "advising middle market companies, lenders, and private equity sponsors on transactions occurring in challenging operating and financial environments," Duff & Phelps said. It is led by managing directors Andrew Chidester, Kevin Fagan and Mark Rubin.

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Morgan Stanley moved asset management leader Owen Thomas to head the bank's business in Asia. Thomas was president of Morgan Stanley Investment Management since December 2005. Before that, he was head of Morgan Stanley Real Estate. In his new role as chief executive of Morgan Stanley Asia, he will relocate from New York to Hong Kong at the end of February. The global investment management business will be co-led by Stuart Bohart, Jay Mantz and Stephen Trevor. The latter two also co-lead the merchant banking group, embracing real estate investing, private equity and infrastructure, while Bohart will head all business outside of merchant banking. Separately, the bank announced 1,000 layoffs from residential mortgage businesses, joining the parade of institutions fleeing the troubled market.

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In yet another senior-level transfer to an emerging market location, Morgan Stanley moved David Law from London to Dubai as chairman of investment banking for the Middle East and North Africa, focusing on sovereign wealth funds. The move was reported by Bloomberg News, citing a company spokesman. Law had spent the past four years heading the bank's international financial sponsors group, which advises private equity firms on deals outside the U.S. Saul Nathan will replace Law as head of the financial sponsors group for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to Bloomberg.

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UBS hired a long-time Morgan Stanley executive to lead its troubled investment banking division. Jerker Johansson, who was vice chairman for Europe at Morgan Stanley since December and previously co-head of global sales and trading, will fill the vacancy created by the ouster of Huw Jenkins last October. He'll start March 17 as chairman and chief executive of UBS Investment Bank, based in London. Johansson, a Swedish citizen and Stanford MBA graduate, had been with Morgan Stanley since 1985.

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Citigroup's top man in China defected to become chief executive of Singapore-based DBS Group, the largest bank in Southeast Asia. Richard Stanley "is well-equipped to help DBS Group grow its footprint in emerging markets, especially in the greater China region," the company said in announcing the appointment, which takes effect May 1. Stanley was CEO of Citigroup China and led Citi's markets and banking business for the ASEAN region earlier in his career. DBS's previous chief, Jackson Tai, stepped down last September and Chairman Koh Boon Hwee took over active management during the interim. DBS operates in 15 Asian markets but its main operations have been in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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JPMorgan's global mergers and acquisitions chief, Dennis Hersch, left the firm to work for the family office of Limited Brands founder Leslie Wexner. The bank reportedly won't hire a replacement. Hersch joined JPMorgan in January 2006 from law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell where he had practiced for 35 years, ending as its head of M&A.

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In an unrelated move, Mitch Scherzer, former head of media investment banking, also left JPMorgan, according to The Wall Street Journal's DealJournal blog. The bank reportedly will not hire a replacement for Scherzer, who stepped down from running the media investment banking team last summer to do more advisory work.

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