Alibaba, China’s e-commerce behemoth, has a thing for hiring bankers into senior leadership roles.
It appointed 20-year Goldman veteran Michael Evans as its president in 2015, and a year later named another ex-Goldmanite, Douglas Feagin, as head of international business for its online finance arm, Ant Financial Services.
But Alibaba’s taste for bankers extends below the C-suite and global banks in Hong Kong are a key hunting ground as the firm expands further into financial services.
Here are some former Hong Kong-based bankers now plying their trade with Alibaba and its offshoots.
Michael Yao, head of corporate finance
Yao joined Goldman Sachs in New York in 1990 and moved to Hong Kong in 1993. He specialised in equity capital market fundraising for Asia companies and was latterly a managing director. In 2003, Yao founded boutique advisory firm ARX Advisors and three years later he moved to Rothschild as co-head of investment banking for Hong Kong. Alibaba poached him in 2013.
Kshitij Karundia, former senior director, strategic investments team
Karundia moved to Alibaba in 2015 having served it as a client for several years. Like Yao, he worked for Rothschild (from 2005 to 2012), where he closed “six landmark transactions” for the Chinese firm. Karundia then moved to Citi as a director in its Hong Kong TMT team and was “instrumental in enhancing Citi's relationship with Alibaba”. Karundia left Alibaba in January 2019 to become a senior director in its Ant Financial affiliate firm, and to found VC firm BAce Capital.
Jackie Hu, investment director
Hu joined Alibaba in 2015 after clocking up more than 10 years’ M&A and capital markets experience, mainly focused on the resources sector. She was most recently at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong as a director in the APAC investment banking general industrials team. Prior to that Hu worked in Citi’s industrials team for four years, latterly as a VP.
Steven Yu, managing director, B2B value-added services business unit
Yu was an experienced corporate banker before he joined Alibaba in February this year. He was most recently head of trade for Asia at Westpac in Hong Kong. Between 2008 and 2014 Yu worked for Deutsche Bank, latterly as its Hong Kong-based head of trade finance and cash management corporates.
Melody Ruan, senior associate, corporate finance
Get three years of investment banking experience under your belt and leave the industry…but for Alibaba, not private equity. After graduating, Ruan worked for Credit Suisse as an analyst in Hong Kong from 2012 to 2015. The e-commerce firm then hired her as a senior associate.
Carson Huang, head of international business, Ant Financial
Huang is an example of a former banking professional who has also moved up the ranks at Alibaba.
He joined Ant Financial (the company’s online payment platform formerly known as Alipay) in 2012 as a director in international financial business development, having worked in banking for six years, latterly as a sales manager at Standard Chartered. Huang was promoted into his current role after just a year.
Aaron Ge, Director, senior investment analyst
Alibaba also hires equity researchers from global banks in Hong Kong. Ge worked as an analyst at ABN AMRO from 2006 to 2010 before joining Citi for two years. He’s now with Libra Capital Management, part of the Alibaba group, and is focused on long-biased and long-only strategies.
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