Bank of America Merrill Lynch hires Margaret Ren in mainland push
Bank of America Merrill Lynch's new China chief has extensive experience and connections
To fast-track its growth on the mainland, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) has appointed Margaret Ren, a well-known banker and relative of a former premier, as China chairman, according to an internal memorandum seen yesterday by the South China Morning Post.
Ren, who is well connected to the government given her family background, joined BAML from French bank BNP Paribas where she was chief of corporate finance for the greater China region, covering Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau and the mainland.
The daughter of former Guangdong Communist Party secretary Ren Zhongyi, Ren is also a daughter-in-law of former premier Zhao Ziyang.
She worked previously at Merrill Lynch in various senior positions between 2007 and 2009.
In her new role at the US bank, Ren will be based in Hong Kong at the Asia-Pacific regional head office.
"It just feels like the return of the queen," said one BAML staffer who declined to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
"And this time, Margaret has a much bigger role and power."
BAML was created after Bank of America rescued Wall Street bank Merrill Lynch from near collapse following the 2008 global financial crisis.
Ren could not be reached for comment yesterday.
A Hong Kong-based spokesman for the bank confirmed the contents of the memorandum, sent by its Asia-Pacific president Matthew Koder to staff yesterday afternoon, but declined to comment further.
In the memorandum, Koder described the new hiring as "one of the most experienced China bankers, with more than 20 years of industry experience. She has extensive knowledge of, and deep relationships with, the Chinese financial and corporate sectors".
Before working at Merrill Lynch the first time, Ren was a star banker at Citigroup, where she was suspended by the bank over an inquiry in 2003 into an initial public offering of shares by China Life Insurance, the mainland's top life insurer, in which she played a key role.
Ren left Citigroup soon after and was cleared of any wrongdoing involving the share offering by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 2006.