JPMorgan’s top China banker Fang Fang to retire, as colleague Frank Gong gets promotion
Fang Fang's early retirement comes as US bank is probed over its hiring practices on mainland
Ray Chan and George Chen
JP Morgan Chase's chief executive for China investment banking is stepping down after more than a decade of making deals at the US bank, people familiar with the situation said.
The New York-based bank yesterday issued an internal memo to some senior staff to announce Fang Fang, who is also JP Morgan's vice-chairman of investment banking in Asia, would "retire", people with first-hand knowledge of the matter said.
As a result of the personnel reshuffle, Frank Gong, who is vice-chairman of China investment banking at JP Morgan and a former China economist at the bank, would take charge of the investment banking business in China, assuming a newly created role of chairman of investment banking for China, according to the internal memo.
Brian Gu and Jing Zhao will be promoted as the co-heads of China investment banking, the US bank said. Zhao will retain her role of head of the financial institutions group for emerging Asia.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Gu will be taking a lead role at the bank to handle the multibillion-dollar listing of e-commerce firm Alibaba in the US.
All of the three bankers will be reporting to Therese Esperdy, the bank's co-head of banking for Asia-Pacific.
The decision by Fang comes at a bad time for JP Morgan, which is being probed by US authorities with regard to its hiring practices in China.
Fang joined the US bank in August 2001 from Beijing Enterprises, where he was a former vice-president of the investment firm controlled by the government of the capital city. Fang was promoted to vice-chairman for Asia investment banking in 2009.
JP Morgan was caught in the spotlight after media reports suggested the bank hired sons and daughters of senior Chinese officials in the hope of winning deals from major state-owned firms.
The reports revealed JP Morgan's hiring of the son of China Everbright Group's chairman, Tang Shuangning, and a former railway official's daughter.
The New York Times also reported last year on JP Morgan's ties with a consulting firm run by Wen Ruchun, also known as Lily Chang, the only daughter of former premier Wen Jiabao.
The bank and Fang have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
Nearly all the top global investment banks, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citi, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, are under investigation by US regulators in regard to whether they inappropriately hired the children and relatives of well-connected politicians and businessmen in exchange for winning business.
Fang did not return phone calls, and a JP Morgan spokeswoman declined to comment.