Asian brokerage and investment group CLSA yesterday appointed Wu Chenggen, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley's mainland investment banking business, to lead its China operations. The appointment of one of the mainland's most experienced and well-connected investment bankers is a coup for CLSA, which is a smaller player than the US investment banking giant. 'Mr Wu basically built up Morgan Stanley's mainland business from scratch and was an obvious choice to lead our China team. He is coming here for the challenge,' said a CLSA spokesman. Mr Wu (right) joined Morgan Stanley in 1988 as a managing director and was most recently vice-chairman of the US investment bank's Asia-Pacific operations. During his stint at Morgan Stanley, Mr Wu worked on China Unicom and Sinopec Corp's multibillion-dollar listings in 2000. More recent transactions included China Construction Bank Corp's US$9.2 billion public listing in 2005. CLSA chairman Rob Morrison said the appointment of Mr Wu reflected the 'exponential growth' CLSA had enjoyed over the past few years. The independent brokerage advises on mergers and acquisitions and helps underwrite A-share offerings through China Euro Securities, the mainland's first securities joint venture that it established in 2003. Last year, CLSA advised Group SEB on its acquisition of a 52.3 per cent stake in Zhejiang Supor for US$470 million, the first time a foreign investor had bought a majority stake in an A-share listed company through a public offer. However, one industry insider and a former colleague of Mr Wu said the new appointment at CLSA was needed. 'CLSA doesn't have anyone now, so it is great for them to hire someone with Wu's experience and government contacts,' he said. 'But the CLSA job will need a different approach, as Morgan Stanley's focus has been the big state-owned enterprises whereas CLSA needs to focus on private companies.'