THE outgoing chairman of Goldman Sachs (Asia), Mr Moses Tsang, has said there is no dark motive behind his retirement from full time commitment to the bank. He ruled out the possibility that his departure had anything to do with what incoming chairman Mark Evans has described as 'some shifting in numbers', but which elsewhere in Hong Kong's financial community is being seen as part of a deeper strategy. This is said to involve a faster build-up of resources based in Singapore and targeted at members of the Association of South East Asian Nations and India. The group, however, is reticent about just how big its presence in Singapore will be. Rivals suggest that China has not turned out to be the bonanza Goldman expected and geared for. But insiders at Goldman say that the group is building up its Chinese presence and is still recruiting. Next week it opens a representative office in Shanghai. None of these arguments will directly concern Mr Tsang who revealed that he is planning to set up his own direct investment company, specialising in venture capital and mezzanine finance in the region. 'I wanted to do something of my own. I am approaching 46 and couldn't wait until I was 50,' said Mr Tsang, an American citizen. 'Most retiring partners are expected to go back to their home town, but I decided to stay here,' he added. As a limited partner of the bank he will continue to play a role at Goldman. Mr Tsang is now preparing to link up with other powerful figures in the region to set up a private banking company. He explained that direct investment was one of the fastest growing areas of banking business in the region, dwarfing the more visible fee-paying activities such as share listings. It is a highly intensive labour and management business. 'You go in with a direct investment, and then work with the company for five years or more to realise your investment,' said Mr Tsang. It was, he said, one of the fastest growing sides of Goldman's business. Among the Goldman executives recently appointed partners in Hong Kong, Henry Cornell is responsible for direct investment. Mr Tsang is not expected to lack sources of capital. In his 17 years at Goldman Sachs, he worked in New York, London and Tokyo before launching the Hong Kong office. A statement from the bank announcing his departure listed Li Ka-shing of Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa and Sun Hung Kai Properties' Kwok family as among his close contacts, but his connections run much wider than these powerful magnates. Certainly, whatever problems Goldman is facing from the slowdown in world investment banking and securities markets, Mr Tsang's retirement fits in with Goldman's pattern. Partners have a nasty, brutal, but lucrative life with long hours, few holidays and a non-stop, high pressure routine. But the real gravy only comes with retirement. While partners are in harness their share of profits, which can amount to millions of US dollars a year, are piled up and reinvested. They have to scrape by on around US$200,000 in salary, according to reports in America, but it is not unusual for a golden handshake of $10 million, which many use to bankroll a new career.