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Goldman changes its Asia banking leadership as new CEO



Goldman Sachs Group
Inc.


GS 0.89%

clears its leading position in Asia, where a high-profile corruption scandal has muted an otherwise strong wave of business development.

Andrea Vella and Kate Richdale, Goldman's investment banking chiefs in the region, are excluded from management in the view of those familiar with the matter. They will be replaced by Todd Leland, an advisor to European banks and asset managers, who was appointed to lead Goldman's activities in Asia last year.

Under David Solomon, who took over the post of Goldman chief executive on October 1

, there was a rapid change in corporate executive power. The company has appointed a new president, replaced the CFO, deployed two new executives for its trading business and started to change the way it covers its key clients.

Mr. Vella, an Italian-born banker, was closely associated with a pair of young black eyes for Goldman's investment bank. He has structured a Malaysian bond that has involved Goldman in a rampant corruption investigation that is likely to result in a large financial penalty. He also worked on a derivative sold to Libya's sovereign wealth fund, which went to court last year. (The company was acquitted of misconduct.) The process by which Mr. Vella testified made unflattering details about the company's business with the fund.)

Richdale joined Goldman in 2013, where he was hired by Morgan Stanley. Born in Hong Kong and fluent in Mandarin, she developed relationships with regional giants including Singapore's state-owned investment fund Temasek Holdings Pte.

She will switch to a role that is more customer-centric, people familiar with the matter said, leaving the daily oversight of the business to Goldman at a time when more women wanted to be in leadership positions [19659006] Asia, despite its fast-growing economies, was a tough place for Wall Street companies. Subscription fees are lower than in the US and tend to be split between a larger group of banks. The mergers are hot and cold and are heavily influenced by government officials. In 2016, Goldman broke dozens of bankers in Asia as transaction volumes slowed.

Of the three geographic divisions of Goldman, Asia is the smallest and least profitable. The main investments that have been made are Goldman's participation in the

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Ltd.

was profitable enough to earn his own position in the financial reports of the company for years – most of them were largely rolled out.

In the first half of 2018, Goldman made $ 767 million in pre-tax profit in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, approximately 11% of the company-wide total. Asia makes a small contribution to overall profits for most Western banks operating in the region.

According to Dealogic, Goldman is the # 1 stock issuer and mergers and acquisitions in the non-Japan region this year. It helped lead the Chinese IPOs of the smartphone maker

Xiaomi
Corp.

and online services platform

Meitanan Dianping

and is lead underwriter of the upcoming listing of Tencent Music Group Entertainment in New York

Mr. Leland, a Midwestler who has spent time in the US and London for Goldman, is considered a steady hand and seasoned banker.

Down in the ranks are Raghav Maliah, Head of Asia Technology Banking at Raghav Maliah; Aaron Arth, who operates Equity Capital Markets; and Iain Drayton, who, according to persons familiar with the matter, covers private equity funds and sovereign wealth funds in the region

Write to Julie Steinberg at julie.steinberg@wsj.com and Liz Hoffman at liz.hoffman@wsj.com


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