The Rainmaker
    Category: Main Features By : Ardian Wibisono and Justin Doebele Read : 4406 Date : Friday, February 13, 2015 - 18:18:50

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Credit Suisse made a historic announcement last October: Helman Sitohang, 49, was named as the chief executive for Asia-Pacific, a newly created post. Helman’s elevation to a regional chief executive role marks the highest position held by any Indonesian in a global financial services firm. Overseeing a regional franchise with over 7,400 employees, Helman is now among an elite group of the top six business heads and four functional heads that reports directly to Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan.

    Helman, who will continue to hold the position of head of investment bank for Asia-Pacific as well, was previously the co-head of the Asia investment-banking department. Helman has an outsized role at the bank, as the Asia Pacific market has become increasingly important for Credit Suisse. For the first nine months of 2014, the region contributed 13% of the firm-wide revenue with a thick margin of 23% of pretax income and is growing at a very fast pace, 400% over the last four years. Asia also contributed the firm’s most important deal last year: Credit Suisse was the left lead bank among the six lead underwriters for the Alibaba IPO, the biggest IPO in history at $25 billion.

    Within Asia, Indonesia is a standout for Credit Suisse, where the bank has held a dominant position for years despite fierce competition from local, regional and global rivals. Credit Suisse has been either the number one or number two investment bank in Indonesia from 2004 to 2014 on a fee basis, according to researcher Dealogic. It has won the title of best foreign investment bank in Indonesia from trade magazine Finance Asia for 15 years in a row. “Credit Suisse is the Roger Federer of banking in Indonesia,” says Alberto Migliucci, a former managing director who worked with Helman for five years at Credit Suisse before starting his own Petra Commodities firm.

    With 17 years at the bank, Helman has been a key individual driving many of those deals. He has been involved in over $200 billion of mergers, acquisitions and capital raising globally during his career. Based in Singapore, Helman gave Forbes Indonesia a rare interview. Sitting at his office in One Raffles Link overlooking downtown Singapore, Helman described his hopes for his new role—to make Credit Suisse the key bank for Asia’s entrepreneurs. “Our strategy is to leverage the strong combination of private banking, wealth management and investment banking capabilities on our integrated platform, and to use these synergies to deliver the best solutions and output for our clients. Particularly in Asia, we believe that focusing on the entrepreneurs is the right strategy. For example the recent Alibaba deal comes from the kind of relationship that we have had with many of our clients, which is fostered over many years,” he says. He uses the example of Malaysia’s Tony Fernandes, the founder of AirAsia, for whom Credit Suisse helped raise capital when he had only six planes (now he has around 160 planes). Later on, Credit Suisse led AirAsia’s IPO on the Malaysian exchange and continues to work closely with the group.

    In Indonesia, Helman’s relationships run deep and wide. Among those with whom he has worked include billionaire Chairul Tanjung. “He is qualified as being both a true friend and a professional banker. He has been a trusted advisor on all of our major transactions,” Chairul says about Helman. The two have known each other for about two decades.