(Bloomberg) -- CLSA Ltd.’s top global banker resigned and its Chairman Zhang Youjun stepped aside, marking another big shakeup at the Hong Kong brokerage that has been hit by a string of key departures over the past four years. 

Vice Chairman Charles Lin recently quit the brokerage after being hired in early 2020 to steer its international business, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters. The firm earlier this month elevated its head of institutional equities and research, Li Chunbo, to take over from Zhang, who remains the chairman Citic Securities Co., CLSA’s parent company, the people said.   

Lin, the former Asian head at Vanguard Group, was handpicked by Zhang to lead the international business. CLSA’s global push has largely foundered amid a culture clash with the Chinese state-controlled Citic Securities. CLSA has been gripped by turmoil since 2019, when top management, including Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Slone, quit after being lambasted by Zhang over the ability to earn decent returns and spending.      

Once one of Hong Kong’s top independent brokers, CLSA was bought by Citic Securities nine years ago to use the firm, which was founded by two journalists in 1986, as a springboard for a global expansion. 

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

The departure “could reflect persistent revenue headwinds amid the city’s stock and IPO slump. CLSA could struggle to keep its cost-income ratio at a similar level to its parent’s, even if it cuts costs, including remuneration of executives. CLSA’s net profit plunged 41% in 1H vs. Citic Securities’ 8% drop.”

-- Sharnie Wong and Lucy Wang, analysts at Bloomberg Intelligence.

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The new chairman, Li, joined CLSA almost three years ago as part of a restructuring of the more freewheeling unit to tie it closer to its parent company. He’s a member of the executive committee and the head of research, equity distribution and trading at the Beijing-based company.

Lin had also assumed many of the responsibilities of then CEO Rick Gould, who resigned in 2020 after just 16 months in the role.   

Media representatives at CLSA didn’t respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment. 


(Updates with comment from analyst.)

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