Financial industry mourns sudden deaths of Keith Li and Mark Liinamaa

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 March, 2013, 11:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 March, 2013, 10:17am

Hong Kong's financial community was in shock yesterday after the deaths of two industry professionals within days of each other, partly blamed on work stress.

Li Kai, chief executive of Bosera Asset Management (International), the Hong Kong-based offshore arm of Bosera, died of a brain haemorrhage during a bus journey to Shenzhen, his friends and colleagues said. Li, 41, was also known to his foreign colleagues and clients as Keith Li.

His colleagues at Bosera, one of the mainland's largest asset management houses with more than US$30 billion of assets under their wing, were informed of his death yesterday.

Separately, Mark Liinamaa, a middle-aged senior research analyst with Citigroup's Asia natural resources team in Hong Kong, died of a heart attack during a business trip to Laos earlier this week. Many of his colleagues were informed yesterday.

A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment, saying the case was a "personal matter".

Li and Liinamaa are the latest members of the financial industry - where work pressure has soared since the global financial crisis began in 2008 - to die suddenly, at relatively young ages.

"Working in the financial industry has become a contest of body strength, in many cases," Ba Shusong, an influential economist with the mainland's cabinet think tank, said on his personal microblog in response to the news of Li's death.

Working in the financial industry has become a contest of body strength, in many cases

Wu Sheng, a well-known mainland private equity fund manager, died in 2011 at the age of 40. In 2009, Sun Yanqun, a senior executive in charge of investment portfolios at JPMorgan's fund management joint venture in Shanghai, died at the age of 41, mainland media reported.

A person who worked with Li described him as "a nice person who kept a very low profile". He said Li divided his time between Shenzhen, where Bosera is headquartered, and the Hong Kong office, which opened in 2010.

As many mainland firms expand to Hong Kong, frequent road or air travel between the city and mainland offices is typical for employees.

Hong Kong-based analysts and fund managers often must travel to the mainland for research or to make sales.

Li joined Bosera in 2003 when the mainland's mutual fund industry was in its infancy. He previously worked for the international asset management firms Invesco and Merrill Lynch.

In the past few years, Bosera has boasted several big global institutions among its clients, which it helps invest in the mainland's capital markets through the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors scheme.

Bosera is also one of the fund managers that oversees a large portion of the assets in the mainland's national pension fund.