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KKR poaches Goldman Asia investment banking chair Richdale

Trading information for KKR & Co is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

HONG KONG (Reuters) - KKR & Co Inc has poached Kate Richdale, chair of Goldman Sachs Group Inc's investment bank in Asia excluding Japan, in 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 KKR's 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, Goldman confirmed the departure and said Richdale had played an important role in building its client coverage footprint in Asia ex-Japan.

A spokeswoman for Goldman confirmed the content of the memo.

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.

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 leagues tables, working on deals worth $17.2 billion.

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 now at the center of allegations of a multi-billion dollar theft.

KKR has been strengthening its presence in Asia in recent years and raised the then biggest-ever fund for the region at $9.3 billion in 2016. In November, it 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)