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Countries & Regions – China – First

David Cui, Thomas Wong & team Bank of America Merrill Lynch

The buy side says: “Their work is more multifaceted than other analysts’.”

Climbing the final rung to finish on top for the first time is the 50-strong Bank of America Merrill Lynch troop co-­captained by David Cui, who also leads a ­runner-up team in Equity Strategy, and newcomer Thomas Wong, who also co-­directs the No. 2 crew in Oil & Gas. The Hong Kong–based analysts follow some 250 companies with “the best-thought-out, most-­illustrative, most-­original, widest-­­scope research,” insists one buy-side advocate. The squad’s cautious stance at the start of last year, based partly on China’s struggles to balance growth with the need to temper inflation, proved prescient. By the end of the year, the MSCI China index had tumbled 20.4 percent, in local currency terms. For 2012 the team is urging investors to “stay defensive” and buy only select stocks in sectors such as utilities, Cui says. The 44-year-old joined BofA ­Merrill in 1999 from Indosuez W.I. Carr Securities; he received a bachelor’s degree in commerce from Australia’s University of New South Wales. Wong, 39, arrived in 2009 from Och-Ziff Capital Management Group after earning a master’s degree in finance from the ­London ­Business School. — ­Ben Mattlin

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