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Exclusive: Christianson poised to be new Morgan Stanley Asia CEO

Thomas to return to the US; top China banker could share role with Hong Kong-based colleague

Wei Christianson, Morgan Stanley’s top China banker, looks poised to cement her position as one of the rising stars of the firm as speculation grows linking her to the Asia CEO role. The firm has not yet announced a replacement for previous incumbent Owen Thomas, who is returning to the US after three years in the role.

Christianson, the firm’s chief executive for China and one of the region’s most connected and experienced dealmakers, is according to sources inside and outside Morgan Stanley the obvious choice to replace Thomas. Taking the job, however, would mean moving to Hong Kong. Christianson is a veteran mainland China dealmaker with an extensive network of contacts in Beijing; the Asia CEO role would probably involve a change of location to Hong Kong and an increase in time spent managing rather than doing deals. One possible solution would be for the bank to opt for a co-CEO structure: Christianson could remain in Beijing while taking on some wider regional responsibilities, while her co-CEO would take up the Hong Kong role.

Frequently cited as one of the most powerful women in global finance, Christianson is known for her role in a string of landmark China deals, as well as her close relationship with former Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack.

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