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J.P. Morgan Cuts Two Senior Credit Positions In Hong Kong

Two heads of J.P. Morgan's cash and derivatives credit team were let go last week as reverberations from the merger with Chase Manhattan continue to rumble through Asia. Warren Burroughs, co-head of Asian credit trading, and Martin Matsui, head of Asian credit sales, left the firm last week. Both reported to Chris Nicholas, Asian regional head of credit markets in Hong Kong. Nicholas said J.P. Morgan is reorganizing the department because of the economic downturn and because it is still in the process of combining J.P. Morgan, Chase and Robert Fleming. Burroughs and Matsui could not be reached for comment.

Nicholas said the market downturn requires a new department structure, declining to comment on the specifics. The department has transferred Nick Barnes, credit derivatives marketer, and Miles Henderson, credit derivatives structurer, from its London office to Hong Kong in the last two weeks. Barnes and Henderson could not be reached by press time.

Burroughs, who is considered a heavyweight by his peers and headhunters, took an administrative role after the merger and moved away from trading. One official said he wanted a managerial role running his department and was not satisfied with the lack of responsibility he had at J.P. Morgan. In normal circumstances both would be snapped up but with hiring freezes at most banks they may find it hard to find new positions, added a headhunter.

Several market officials said the moves may have been politically motivated, noting that in Hong Kong and Singapore managers who came from Chase have typically won out over those with J.P. Morgan prior to the merger. "It makes you realize banking is all about politics," said one former employee.

Simon Chiu, co-head of Asian credit trading in Hong Kong, who has taken over Burroughs' duties, and Nicholas himself both came from the Chase side and both reject that the moves were politically motivated. Nicholas added, "this is not politics. There has been a fair and equitable process with extensive due diligence."

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