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Top Goldman Asia banker Dees to take global, U.S.-based role: sources

By Lawrence White and Michael Flaherty

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A top Goldman Sachs banker in Asia is relocating to the United States to take on a global role, people familiar with the matter told Reuters, after playing a key part in the firm's efforts to broaden its business amid a drop in equity offering volumes.

Dan Dees, Goldman's co-head of investment banking for Asia, is expected to move within the next few months, the sources said. They could not confirm the exact title the American banker will take on, but said it would be a global appointment.

Goldman earned large fees on a few select deals in Asia in the last year, during which investment banks across the region took on more complex financings and aimed for solo bookrunning offerings rather than depending on the steady volume of equity issuance they previously enjoyed.

In addition to Goldman's Asia investment banking revamp, Missouri-born Dees, 43, played a key role in two of Asia's three largest ever initial public offerings: the $22.12 billion listing of the Agricultural Bank of China <601288.SS> and the $20.5 billion flotation of insurer AIA Group Ltd <1299.HK>.

Other top Goldman deals this year included the latest in a series of three bond sales for Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. The transactions earned Goldman hundreds of millions of dollars in fees according to media reports, and also attracted some criticism from Malaysian opposition politicians.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment on Dees.

The sources cited the opportunity to move up from a regional to a global role, and also family reasons, to explain Dees' departure from Asia.

His wife and five children moved this summer to the U.S. West Coast, where the children are now in school, the people said. Before his six years in Hong Kong, Dees spent four years in Tokyo.

People familiar with the matter said Dees was among the bankers who worked around the clock to help AIG place $6 billion of AIA shares in March 2012, in one of Hong Kong's largest equity deals last year.

Deutsche Bank and Goldman got the lead roles on the deal, specifying on term sheets that they were the "active" co-ordinators and bookrunners. That sparked a minor spat with the other underwriters, with banks complaining that the term sheets implied the rest were "passive.

Dees graduated from Duke University in 1992, going straight to Goldman in New York. He was named managing director in 2001 and partner in 2004.

CO-HEADS

Goldman named Dees and Matthew Westerman as its top Asia investment bankers in February 2012.

When they took over as investment bank co-heads, Westerman had most recently been global head of equity capital markets, while Dees was the head of the financing group in Asia-Pacific and chairman of the financing group for Japan.

Their priority was to continue the bank's efforts to diversify revenues in Goldman Sachs' core investment banking business in Asia, which, in common with other Wall Street banks, had relied heavily on underwriting bumper stock offerings from China's state-backed companies and other Greater China deals.

The dwindling supply of those deals, coupled with a proliferation in the number of underwriters handling them, prompted Goldman to expand its smaller-than-average debt capital markets platform and its derivatives business in Asia.

Those businesses have become more lucrative as Asia's top companies mature and demand more regular, and more sophisticated, funding and hedging.

In 2010 and 2011, the majority of Goldman's Asia investment banking revenues came from equity and M&A advisory fees, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Last year, Goldman earned an estimated $346 million in Asia Pacific investment banking, Thomson Reuters data show. That revenue was spread across equity, bonds, loans and M&A, with bonds taking the lion's share.

By the third quarter of 2012, investment banks made more money from debt deals than underwriting stock offerings for the first time [ID:nL4E8JV1ZD].

People familiar with the matter say that Goldman is on track to set a record for revenue this year for Asia Pacific investment banking.

The bank may have earned as much as $700 million from arranging private bond placements for 1MDB, according to calculations by IFR magazine, a Thomson Reuters publication.

And it earned more than $40 million, one source told Reuters at the time, for its exclusive handling of China state oil refiner Sinopec <0386.HK>'s 3.1 billion share offer in February this year.

(This story was corrected to fix deal value, month in paragraph 9)

(Additional reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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