CLSA CLSA Capital Partners

Financial Times

CLSA co-founder dies after cancer battle
By Tom Mitchell in Hong Kong

Published: October 27 2006 00:17 | Last updated: October 27 2006 00:17

Gary Coull, co-founder and executive chairman of brokerage CLSA, died in the US on Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 52.

One of Hong Kong's most independent and outspoken investment bankers, Mr Coull was a fixture of the territory's financial and journalism communities for 30 years.

He instilled a stubbornly independent and maverick culture at CLSA, which continues to distinguish it in an industry otherwise populated by mega US and European investment banks and small Chinese brokerages.

Under Mr Coull's leadership, the brokerage became famous for often provocative and sometimes tongue-in-cheek research reports, such as an annual round-up of Chinese geomancers' predictions for the Hong Kong stock market.

Though the brokerage branched into investment banking in the 1990s, it continues to generate about three-quarters of its revenues from research produced by a regional network of more than 100 analysts. CLSA's annual investor conference attracts political celebrities and rock stars, and is widely regarded as one of the city's best parties.

A native of Vancouver, Mr Coull arrived in Hong Kong in 1977, working as a journalist first with the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's largest English-language newspaper, and later the Far Eastern Economic Review, then an investigative weekly.

His financial career began in 1987 when he joined his friend Jim Walker at a start-up brokerage, Winfull Laing and Cruickshank. When it was subsequently acquired by Credit Lyonnais, the two partners secured a 35 per cent stake and considerable autonomy for its senior staff who, CLSA noted, did not want to be just "employees of the big French bank".

Rob Morrison, CLSA chief executive, who will assume Mr Coull's role as chairman, said: "In large part due to Gary's ability to motivate, CLSA has been able to not only remain fiercely competitive but to continue to thrive as an independent house in an environment where many of its competitors couldn't."

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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