HONG KONG—J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s head of investment banking, Jeff Urwin, will move to Hong Kong and add the role of chief executive for Asia.
This marks the first time the New York bank has based the global head of investment banking in the Asia-Pacific region, underscoring its growing importance for the bank. Urwin will relocate from New York in May.
J.P. Morgan ranked No.1 in global investment-banking revenue in the first quarter, according to Dealogic.
Urwin will continue to report to Jes Staley, chief executive of J.P. Morgan's Investment Bank, which spans advisory work and trading. Mr. Staley took on additional responsibility in the middle of last year for overseeing the firm's international businesses.
"This is a major step, highlighting the importance of Asia to the overall franchise," said Staley in an interview. "Asia is increasing its relative impact on the world's financial markets, and we want our clients to know we're right there with them."
J.P. Morgan generates roughly half of its wholesale revenue outside of the U.S., and is looking to further globalize its business.
Investment banks have invested heavily across Asia Pacific, hoping the region's fast economic growth will translate into big profits. But new global regulations, fierce competition and a drought in Hong Kong listings have forced many bankers to rethink strategies and cut costs of late.
Last year Asia Pacific contributed a larger portion of investment banks' global fixed-income revenue than it had a year earlier, and its percentage contribution in equities held steady—but the region's contribution to origination & advisory revenue was down, according to data from London-based Coalition.
"We want to use our financial strength to continue to invest in the region, irrespective of whether one year is strong or weak," said Staley.
Urwin will oversee J.P. Morgan's activities throughout the region, succeeding Gaby Abdelnour, who said in March he will leave the bank this summer after 14 years. In recent years in J.P. Morgan has built out its platform in China, including establishing a securities joint venture.
"I don't anticipate radical changes," Urwin said in an interview. "We have a solid basis for our businesses across the region and I am looking to continue the progress."
An investment banker for more than 30 years, the 56-year-old Urwin took on his current role as head of global investment-banking coverage, capital markets and mergers & acquisitions mid-2011. He had previously been co-head of North America investment banking.
The British and U.S. national came to J.P. Morgan in 2008, when it bought the ailing Bear Stearns, where he was co-head of global investment banking.
Urwin has been based in the U.S. since 1991, when he moved to New York to be head of global emerging markets for Lehman Brothers, and has travelled to Asia several times a year for the past 20 years. He first visited China in 1983.
Urwin's move follows the relocation of several other senior J.P. Morgan bankers to Asia from New York. In late 2011, Therese Esperdy became co-head of Asia Pacific Investment Banking alongside Todd Marin, covering an expanded platform including Japan and financial institutions. Esperdy had been head of global debt capital markets in New York. In January, Jeff Zajkowski relocated to become head of equity capital markets for Asia Pacific; he had been responsible for equity-linked origination for the Americas.
This story first appeared on WSJ.com
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