The Asian asset management arm of European insurer Allianz SE is set to appoint a new CEO “in the near future” after announcing that incumbent Douglas Eu had been promoted.
Eu, who has led Allianz Global Investors in Asia since joining from JF Asset Management in 2006, will become chief executive of the firm’s US asset management business at the start of 2016, it was revealed yesterday.
The firm has offices across the US, including New York, San Francisco, San Diego and Dallas. It is understood he will spend most of his time in New York when he relocates. He will replace Brian Gaffney, who is set to retire at the end of this year.
Asked whether Allianz GI had hired anyone to replace Eu as Asia CEO, a spokesperson told AsianInvestor: “A successor will be announced in the near future.”
The spokesperson declined to confirm whether Allianz GI had been in the hiring markets seeking a replacement. However, an announcement on his replacement is expected within a couple of weeks.
Sources indicate that an internal promotion is most likely and has already been recommended to the board. Senior candidates in the region would include COO Frank Klausfelder and Desmond Ng, who is CEO of Greater China and Southeast Asia as well as head of institutional business.
However, Klausfelder is set to retire at the end of this month, AsianInvestor can confirm. That leaves Ng as the most likely candidate. He only joined Allianz GI late last year from US fund house Invesco, where he had worked for more than eight years, as reported. Ng came in as Greater China CEO, with incumbent Christina Hui taking up a role as chief marketing officer for Asia Pacific.
Ng’s arrival created a reunion, with Eu, Hui and Ng having all previously worked at former Hong Kong-based investment bank Jardine Fleming. JF was sold to JP Morgan Chase in 2000.
“[Eu] is a natural choice to take over leadership of AllianzGI in the US, given his knowledge and experience in the US market combined with his track record of successfully growing our business in Asia Pacific,” said Elizabeth Corley, the unit’s global CEO, in a statement.
It is understood the decision for Eu to take up the US chief executive role was taken in the past few weeks. Asked about his pending new role, Eu told AsianInvestor: "It is a bit like being pregnant, it [the move] doesn't happen for eight months. But this is an interesting opportunity and I have been doing my current role for nine years. My personal view is it is good to move people around."
Asked what he would remember most about his time in Asia, he said: "The thing that is hardest that I will always remember is bringing a good team together. We [AllianzGI in Asia] are more than 10 times larger than when I joined, and that comes from a good team effort. We have created a team of equals. I will miss the people."
Eu confirmed he would be back in Asia regularly, not least because his daughter is due to graduate from high school in Hong Kong next summer, but also because he is on the global executive committee, which is set to meet in Asia twice next year.
"I will be back in Asia a lot," Eu said. "Primarily my responsibility [in the new job] will be the US, but we [the global executive committee] are very proactive about what we need to do globally."
AllianzGI had €412 billion ($464 billion) in assets under management globally as at the end of last year, of which Asia Pacific represented €31 billion, or 7.5%.
It has about 600 staff in the region, including 106 investment professionals predominantly based in Hong Kong. It has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, Korea and Japan, with a joint venture Allianz Guotai Jun An in Shanghai.
It is ambitious to grow its regional business centred around its Asian fixed income offering based in Singapore, where it has around 30 staff (eight investment professionals) presently.
Primarily the flows AllianzGI has seen in Asia have been from US high yield (2013) and Income and Growth (2014). It started Asian fixed income investment in 2012, so is coming up to its three-year track record.
Eu gave his views on Asian fund passporting at the recent FundForum Asia conference in Hong Kong, where he pointed to the power of the regulators, as reported. He suggested the speed of development of online platforms would ultimately depend on what the regulators wanted.