Surprise Return for UBS Asia «Rock Star» Investment Banker

Matthew Grounds, UBS, Australia, Matthew Hanning

Matthew Grounds, UBS Australia

Australia's most powerful dealmaker who advises billionaire James Packer is returning to a high-profile role at UBS in Asia. The return of the investment banker is a surprise.

Matthew Grounds, a veteran of UBS in Asia who retreated to a smaller role in Australasia two years ago, is celebrating his return to the Swiss bank as chairman of investment banking for Asia-Pacific, according to «The Australian».

His unexpected return comes shortly after UBS' head of corporate and client solutions in Asia-Pacific, Matthew Hanning, left the bank in a shakeup under overall unit head Andrea Orcel last month.

Reports to Orcel

Grounds will oversee UBS’s equities, fixed income and currency and investment banking divisions throughout Asia-Pacific, as well as sit on UBS’s APAC risk committee board. His new role doesn't include any responsibility for wealth or asset management.

His golden-child status is made obvious by his reporting line: while Hanning's replacement in Asia, Sam Kendall, reports to investment bank management in the U.S. and has slightly different responsibilities than his predecessor, Grounds reports directly to Orcel.

«Rock Star» 

Australia has long been a bright spot in UBS' investment bank, and much of that is down to Grounds, who is widely seen as the country's preeminent dealmaker. He has likened his role as an investment banker to that of Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones – a «background» one.

Grounds, a friend and associate of Australian billionaire James Packer, negotiated a controversial bonus protection scheme in Australia for his investment bankers, though he himself did not participate.

Job Rumors

According to «The Australian,» Grounds was variously rumored previously to have been headed for a formal role in running Packer's money, launching a new brokerage with former UBS colleagues, or helping U.S. boutique Moelis or lender Wells Fargo set up in Australia.

Grounds' new grasp on Asian investment banking at UBS will put a halt to those rumors for now. 



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