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India-born for JP Morgan

Financial giant J P Morgan Chase has promoted India-born executive Anu Aiyengar as co-head of mergers and acquisitions for North America, making her one of the most senior women running a mergers group at a big bank on Wall Street.

Aiyengar, 42, along with Henry Gosebruch, a German citizen who specializes in health care and biotech deals, will assume the newly created roles of co-heads of mergers and acquisitions at the financial giant.

“In this time of unprecedented M&A activity, we are making changes to our organisation structure to better align our regional M&A resources in support of our client agenda,” J P Morgan’s co-heads of global M&A, Hernan Cristerna and Chris Ventresca, said in an internal memo quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

Aiyengar is a rising star at J P Morgan who was told at an interview at a major Wall Street firm 15 years ago that she could not be hired because she was “the wrong gender, wrong color and wrong country.”

She had joined J P Morgan as an associate in 1999 and moved up to become a senior banker covering the financial institutions, consumer and retail sectors.

During her years at JPMorgan, she has worked on around USD 200 billion worth of transactions.

A report in the New York Times said Aiyengar has worked on several of JPMorgan’s biggest assignments in recent years, focusing on consumer, retail and financial institution deals.

Her high-profile multibillion-dollar mandates last year included food chain Burger King Worldwide’s acquisition of Canadian multinational fast casual restaurant Tim Hortons, the clothing group Men’s Wearhouse acquisition of men’s retailer Jos A Bank and office supplies company OfficeMax’s merger with Office Depot.

The NYT report quoted from a profile of Aiyengar in which she said that she is “very passionate about having more women in broader financial services, and especially banking, not just M&A.”

In the profile, Aiyengar had said that being a woman has proven to be an advantage in connecting with clients with many becoming friends and mentors.

“Maybe it’s stereotypical, but I do feel that listening skills are pretty important,” she said.

Married for 18 years, Aiyengar has said she finds relaxation through Indian classical dance and tries to mentor younger women bankers, according to a report in Business World.

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