Jonathan Slone will resign as Asia chair at Jefferies, the US investment bank, after less than three years in the role to pursue opportunities in private equity.
Slone is among the most high-profile finance veterans in Hong Kong, having previously worked in leadership roles at CLSA, a brokerage in the territory, for three decades.
Slone confirmed to the Financial Times that he would relinquish his chair role and become a senior global adviser to Jefferies from November 30, adding that he would remain in Hong Kong.
An internal memo to staff seen by the Financial Times said that the company looked “forward to having the chance to invest alongside Jonathan in his next venture”.
A person familiar with the matter said Slone wanted to focus on private equity involving Chinese companies without the red-tape compliance issues of working for a US bank in Hong Kong.
The role focused on managing Jefferies’ relationships in investment banking and trading throughout the region. Slone was also charged with leading the New York-based bank’s growth strategy in Asia as it sought to grab market share in areas including cash equities trading and public finance, after having been slower than many of its US rivals to expand in the region.
Slone’s departure from CLSA was followed by a string of staff leaving the Hong Kong brokerage, which had undergone significant structural changes following its acquisition by Citic Securities, China’s biggest state-owned investment bank, six years earlier.
His resignation came around the same time that Tang Zhenyi, CLSA’s former chair, and Nigel Beattie, ex-chief operating officer, also quit. A five-year agreement between CLSA and Citic to preserve the Hong Kong broker’s independence and autonomy had expired just months prior.
Jefferies subsequently hired at least 50 people from CLSA, including its former global head of research, Edmund Bradley, and Christopher Wood, one of CLSA’s top-ranked analysts.
“Three years ago, we made a strategic decision to meaningfully expand our team and capabilities across Asia and Australia,” Jefferies said in a memo to staff on Friday. “Exceptional talent became available to Jefferies and we have always been quick and decisive to invest when the opportunity is compelling, and such was the case then in Asia.”
“Our record growth in Asia has been a true team effort and Jonathan was integral in bringing everyone together, for which we are most grateful,” the memo added.
Jefferies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.