HONG KONG (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs (GS.N) on Tuesday said that Mark Schwartz will take on the role of chairman of its Asia Pacific unit, based in Beijing, becoming the first global investment bank to place its top regional banker in China’s capital.
Scwhartz’s placement in Beijing — rather than Hong Kong where peers from other banks reside — puts him in a position to oversee the bank’s joint venture there, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua, and to have quick access to leaders of some of the world’s largest companies.
Schwartz, 57, first hired by Goldman 33 years ago and a former adviser to George Soros, will replace Goldman’s Michael Evans, who has served as Chairman of Asia Pacific since 2004. Evans is based in New York and will continue in his role as a vice chairman of the bank and global head of growth markets.
While the firm stressed that this is a regional role, placing Schwartz in Beijing puts him in a position to bolster Goldman Sachs Gao Hua’s efforts in China, and push key corporate and government relationships there.
Goldman faces several challenges in China, including renewed competition from foreign securities joint ventures and the rise of domestic investment banks and brokerages.
The firm is the top-ranked bank globally for China equity offerings worldwide year-to-date, though it is only 29th for listings in the onshore “A” share market, according to Thomson Reuters data. That ranking places it below many of its Western rivals, including Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, and UBS.
In Asia-Pacific investment banking overall, the firm is on stronger footing, having closed 2011 as the second-ranked firm in the region by fees and market share according to Thomson Reuters data, behind UBS.
This year, when completed listings have been thin on the ground, it won roles on some of the more high profile attempted listings, including Formula One and Graff Diamonds.
In Asia excluding Japan M&A advisory year-to-date, Goldman is top-ranked so far with 39 announced deals worth a combined $33 billion.
Schwartz’s role will see him oversee all of the firm’s business in Asia, encompassing asset management, private wealth management and securities trading in addition to investment banking.
Schwartz is a Goldman Sachs veteran, having joined the firm in 1979 in the investment banking division. He was named a partner in the firm in 1988.
His career at Goldman Sachs saw him work in fixed income and then run the capital markets division from 1991 to 1997, before a move to Tokyo to become president of the Japan business. He held the title of chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia from 1999 to 2001.
On leaving Goldman at the end of that stint in 2001, Schwartz worked for Soros Fund Management, first as an adviser and then as president and CEO from 2003 to 2004.
Since 2006, Schwartz has been the chairman of MissionPoint Capital Partners, an investment firm he co-founded, which is focused on the transition to a lower carbon economy.
Additional reporting by Michael Flaherty; Editing by Alex Richardson