MD who left finance for a job at a major telecoms company returns to banking in Hong Kong

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Natixis has appointed Robert Wallin as a new Hong Kong-based managing director focused on the telecoms sector. Wallin joined the French bank earlier this month after a stint of almost eight years in the Hong Kong office of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, latterly as an executive director in the firm’s financing solutions department.

His return to the banking sector – Wallin worked for ING before Huawei – runs counter to the recent trend of expansionist Chinese tech companies poaching banking professionals for in-house roles in fields such as corporate development, financing, M&A, and strategy. Huawei is far from the only mainland firm to have former Hong Kong bankers within its ranks – Alibaba, Tencent, and others employ them, partly to help drive their overseas growth.

Wallin’s move shows that it’s possible to leave banking for tech and come back several years later, thanks to the current strong demand within technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) teams at banks in Hong Kong. New listings by Chinese tech companies helped Hong Kong become the world’s largest market for initial public offerings in 2018. Headhunters expect TMT to be the most buoyant coverage sector for hiring within Asian IBD this year.

New Natixis recruit Wallin was an MD and global head of telecoms and media finance at ING between 2007 and 2011. Prior to that he spent eight years at Calyon Credit Agricole (and its predecessor Credit Lyonnais), most recently as an MD. The telecoms veteran began his career at Ericsson, where he worked between 1983 and 1994.

Wallin is not the only person to have left Huawei – the world’s largest telecoms equipment manufacturer, which is currently suing the US government for banning its products – for a bank recently. In September, UOB hired Huawei’s chief technology officer Tobias Gondrom as its chief information security officer.

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Image credit: grandriver, Getty

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