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China: BNP Paribas hopes Ren can make rain

BNP Paribas has hired Margaret Ren, one of the original China banking rainmakers, as chairman and chief executive of corporate finance, Greater China. Ren, most recently head of China Investment Banking at Merrill Lynch, made her reputation for her ability to use her connections in China to land big deals for her employers, first Bear Stearns and then Citigroup, where she worked until 2004. Those deals included getting Bear Stearns, which had little China presence at the time, on to big equity mandates for China Telecom and Guangshen Railway.

Ren, the daughter-in-law of former Chinese premier Zhao Ziyang, was dismissed by Citi in 2004 following claims that she was connected with a regulatory issue involving the falsifying of dates on a document submitted to the SEC. She was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing but her re-emergence at Merrill Lynch, as reported in April 2007 Euromoney ("Why the China rainmaker just won’t go away"), surprised the market and prompted sharply divided reactions. One source called the move "bizarre" while another said that Ren was "without question the most effective China banker of her type the market has ever seen".

The right contacts

Reactions this time are no less divided.

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