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MOVES-CLSA names U.S. head Gould as CEO to replace Slone who quit in March

HONG KONG, April 23 (Reuters) - Asia-focused broker CLSA has appointed Rick Gould as chief executive, replacing company veteran Jonathan Slone who resigned in March amid differences over strategy with the broker's state-backed Chinese parent CITIC Securities (CITIC).

Gould, currently chief executive of CLSA Americas, will take on his new role with immediate effect, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

"[Gould's] experience in building high-performing teams and in growing international businesses will be critical to accelerate our strategy to build a leading Chinese global investment bank," said CLSA Chairman Youjun Zhang in the statement.

Slone's departure last month came just two weeks after CLSA Chairman Tang Zhenyi resigned from the broker, which was bought by state-backed CITIC in 2013, and was replaced by Zhang, also chairman of CITIC.

An agreement between CITIC and CLSA over the broker's management, put in place after the 2013 takeover, ended last summer, after which the state-owned company has increased its involvement with CLSA's operations, according to sources.

The resignations resulted from CITIC's efforts to revamp CLSA's daily operations, one person with direct knowledge of matter told Reuters in March, while another cited differences over strategy.

Other resignations of long-time staff followed, including chief operating officer Nigel Beattie, Xen Gladstone, who ran sales and trading, and Edmund Bradley, head of research.

CLSA had been widely seen as CITIC's international arm with a mandate to wrest market share helped by its parent's roster of Chinese bluechip clients bent on expansion.

The brokerage has pushed aggressively into investment banking as profit margins in its equity broking and research strongholds were squeezed by competition and regulatory change. It dropped CITIC from its name and halved U.S. headcount in 2017.

It has also focused on broader Chinese initiatives, notably the multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road project designed to improve Beijing's trade reach and help fund infrastructure in over 60 countries.

CLSA also announced other appointments on Tuesday including Andrew Hartley as group head of equity sales trading and execution, and Shaun Cochran as group head of research.

"The individuals’ collective, decades-long track record at the firm will ensure continuity of operations and culture," said chairman Zhang. (Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)