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Banking

Asia market round-up: From glass ceiling to wild animal

The endless game of musical chairs at private banks in Asia claimed one of its most high profile scalps in August when Credit Suisse poached Marcel Kreis, southeast Asian head at arch-rival UBS, to run its entire Asian operation.

The hire is a major coup for Credit Suisse, since Kreis is a veteran UBS private banker and credited with driving the Swiss bank’s strong growth in southeast Asia.

“It’s a coup for Credit Suisse,” says an industry expert, “and it’s nice to see them giving UBS a kick in the nuts for a change.”

Perhaps so, but sources say that Kreis had reached something of a glass ceiling at UBS, with little chance of a further move up the banking ladder while regional head Kathryn Shih remains at the helm. As if to confirm the point and perhaps as a reminder to its arch-rival that it would take more than a blow to the nether regions to unseat it as Asia’s leading private bank, UBS announced that Kreis’s position would remain vacant.

Kreis does not start his new job until February 2007, at which point the hard work begins. Credit Suisse has suffered from an erosion of market share in the region as competition heats up; and the firm is famous for its lack of institutional cohesion, something that Kreis perfected at UBS.

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