Founders of Admiralty Harbour
A former top Asian debt banker at UBS AG is setting up a fixed-income house targeting Chinese clients that he sees as under-served by the main global banks.
Patrick Liu, who left the Swiss company as its co-head of Asia debt financing in 2016, has hired three senior bankers and has 11 people in total, as he seeks to build Admiralty Harbour Capital Ltd. into a debt-focused boutique investment bank, he said in an interview in Hong Kong. The firm is a joint venture with TCL Corp the $5.4 billion Chinese conglomerate that sells everything from television sets to refrigerators
Admiralty Harbour will have three business types, according to Liu and his co-founder Alec Tracy, a former partner at U.S.-based law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. They are primary issuance, secondary trading and asset management. The firm is seeking to provide customized debt issuance and restructuring services to Chinese companies that wouldn’t be able to find such offerings at the major banks, they said.
We want to “try to offer more tailor-made credit services,” Liu said. We “see more defaults and distressed cases on the way. Therefore, this is a natural market for our future core business.”
Liu and Tracy plan to hire as many as 15 people this year and up to 25 by the end of 2019. The debt capital markets side of the business will see the bulk of the recruitment at first, with the asset management side being smaller, according to Liu. Prior to joining UBS in 2009, Liu was leading the China debt capital markets origination team at Merrill Lynch and had worked at Credit Suisse AG before that.
Traditionally, the region’s distressed debt-related services have been offered by global boutique advisory firms, according to Liu. "While these firms have global deal credentials and experienced non-Mandarin speaking professionals, they may not have enough local knowledge or good access to the Chinese client group," he said. "We see a potential growing market with a clear gap to be filled."