Australian fund house AMP Capital is expanding its fixed income investment presence in Asia, with its first regional appointments in the asset class outside Sydney.

Sonia Baillie, who joined the Sydney office in 2010 as head of credit research and analysis, will move to Hong Kong in September as head of Asian fixed income. She will join portfolio analyst Nam Nguyen, who moved to the city this month after working in Sydney for over five years.

Both will oversee AMP Capital’s debt investments in Asian rates and currency strategies across its global fixed income portfolio, which has some $45 billion in assets. (The firm is running an internal Asian fixed income fund but has no immediate plans to open it to external investors anytime soon.)

“This is our first fixed-income presence in Asia outside of Australia,” says Kerry Ching, AMP Capital's Asia managing director. In addition to an uptick in interest from insurance companies in dim-sum bonds (RMB bonds issued in Hong Kong), the firm aims to take advantage of the ongoing internationalisation of China's currency.

Asian capital markets for both local- and hard-currency debt are growing fast, says Mark Beardow, AMP Capital's head of fixed income. "As Asian investment markets grow in significance, our clients globally have increasingly been searching for yield and diversification,” he adds.

The firm may eventually add to its fixed income team in Hong Kong, but ultimately the decision lies with Baillie, Ching says. “When Sonia arrives, she’ll need to decide if she needs additional resources.”

The fund manager has been expanding its Asian presence. After setting up its Hong Kong office last September, it emerged that it planned to set up a joint-venture with China Life, marking the first time a foreign fund house will have joined forces with a Chinese insurer.

Ching declined to comment on the JV, which will be called China Life AMP Fund Management, according to the country's State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Ching, previously country head for Hong Kong at Fidelity, joined AMP Capital last August. Since last autumn, its Hong Kong office has grown to 18-strong, with five investment professionals focused on global real estate investment trusts (Reits), six on Asian equities and the rest in sales, marketing, IT support and compliance.

The firm, with $135 billion in AUM as of March 31, also has offices in Tokyo, India and a representative office in Beijing. It also has a presence in London and Chicago.