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Deutsche Bank: Cai-nese whispers

Two years ago, Deutsche Bank beat a host of rival suitors to secure the services of China rainmaker Henry Cai. His task: to make the bank punch harder in the lucrative Asian equities business. Progress has been made, but does Deutsche have what it takes to reach the summit in Asia?

He doesn’t smoke or drink and looks at least a decade younger than his 57 years. He is Henry Cai, the clean-living, fast-talking, deal-making Godfather of the Chinese capital markets.

Cai, who rarely speaks to the media, is quick and energetic as he enters the 65th-floor Deutsche Bank boardroom in the IFC building in Kowloon, apologizing even though he is bang on time.

Deutsche Bank occupies 12 of the 108 storeys in the building, which was completed at around the time Cai joined the bank. He took office two years ago as head of corporate finance for Asia combined with the coveted role of head of the corporate and investment bank in China. As such he took part ownership of the task of rapidly expanding the bank’s equity franchise – the most important part of the investment banking business for banks in the region.

A slide in the league tables during the moribund start to the year in Asian ECM cannot be ignored but Deutsche has been making progress in the equity business in the region since it started its latest push three years ago. The bank ended last year in third spot in the overall ECM table for Asia-Pacific ex Japan, behind Goldman Sachs and UBS, up from 11th position the year before.

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