* KKR creates new role for Richdale as part of broader Asia push
* Richdale most recently Asia ex-Japan investment bank co-chair
* Latest in a series of moves among Goldman’s top Asia ranks (Adds more Goldman context)
HONG KONG, March 4 (Reuters) - KKR & Co Inc has poached Kate Richdale, chair of Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s investment bank in Asia ex-Japan, boosting its Asia-Pacific presence and prompting the latest senior banker departure from the U.S. investment banking giant.
Richdale will be KKR’s Asia-Pacific head of strategy and business development, a newly created role, and will also work with its Asia investing businesses to assist with deal origination, the U.S. private equity firm said on Monday.
Richdale, a fluent Mandarin speaker, moved to Goldman in 2013 from Morgan Stanley in one of the most senior defections seen in Asian banking circles for years.
At the time, she was Morgan Stanley’s head of investment banking for Asia – a key role.
In an internal memo to staff addressing the departure, Goldman said Richdale had played an important role in building its client coverage in Asia ex-Japan.
A spokeswoman for Goldman confirmed the content of the memo.
The departure is the latest in a series of top-rank moves at the U.S. bank. Last month, Goldman announced the retirement of its chairman and chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific ex-Japan, Ken Hitchner, who joined the bank in 1991.
Richdale’s departure comes nearly five months after she and co-head Andrea Vella were promoted to the largely ceremonial role of investment bank co-chairs, which does not involve running the business on a daily basis.
Late last year, Goldman placed Vella on leave over his role in the bank’s work for 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund at the centre of allegations of a multi-billion-dollar theft.
The bank’s Asia investment bank has been headed by Todd Leland, a 26-year veteran of its U.S. and European operations, since October last year. In November, Goldman named Aaron Arth and Iain Drayton as co-chief operating officers in Asia.
Arth is currently head of the financing group for Asia-Pacific excluding Japan while Drayton runs the bank’s financial and strategic investors group.
Goldman topped the Asia-Pacific mergers-and-acquisitions league table last year with $131.2 billion worth of deals, ahead of Morgan Stanley on $119 billion, showed data from Refinitiv. The bank also topped the region’s equity league tables, working on deals worth $17.2 billion.
KKR hired Richdale and created her role as part of an ongoing move to strengthen its presence in Asia and improve its ability to operate in a broader range of businesses.
Richdale will take up the post in the second quarter of this year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
In November, KKR hired David Luboff, CEO of Macquarie Group Ltd’s Asia Infrastructure Fund, as its new head of Asia Pacific Infrastructure to build out a local team and potentially raise a regional infrastructure fund.
It has also appointed new leaders for its Asia real estate and credit businesses, it said on Monday.
Last year, KKR led a consortium to acquire Taipei-listed LCY Chemical Corp in a $1.56 billion stock deal, marking it the U.S. private equity firm’s first deal in the island in more than a decade.
Reporting by Alun John, Jennifer Hughes, Sumeet Chatterjee and Kane Wu; Editing by Christopher Cushing