Australian fund manager AMP Capital has set sights on growing its fledgling Asia business after hiring Fidelity’s former Hong Kong head Kerry Ching to run regional sales and distribution.

The A$125 billion firm announced Ching’s arrival yesterday, as reported. She is based in Hong Kong to focus on key client relationships, institutional sales and business development, and may choose to bring in additional resources.

She reports to Anthony Fasso, director of international business, and replaces Dean Winterton, who joined Prudential AM (subsequently rebranded Eastspring Investments) last September.

Fasso says AMP Capital has taken a strategic decision to make Hong Kong its Asia hub, from where it will target institutional clients in the region. Its stock of clients includes institutional, corporate, superannuation and retail, although retail will not be a focus out of Hong Kong.

“There are lots of things we want to do in the region,” says Fasso. “In particular we will focus on large capital pools in North Asia. There is a trend by Asian sovereign wealth funds to outsource into global and regional infrastructure and real estate and that’s a core capability for us.”

He notes that AMP Capital will have 10 portfolio managers based in Hong Kong soon after setting up an Asian equities team and moving to buy back its joint venture with Brookfield Investment Management, which will see four fund managers rejoining its structure.

Its preference is for a bigger in-house team as part of its international expansion drive. Fasso notes that the firm typically works via mandates and has two key regional strategies: one for Asia ex-Japan, and one for Asia-Pacific. It also offers Asia long-short and Asian Reit strategies.

It recently hired Patrick Ho and a team from BNP Paribas Investment Partners to focus on Greater China equities and he will assume portfolio management responsibility for the firm’s China growth fund when he comes on board next month.

Asked about its intentions for fixed income in Asia, Fasso notes that it is looking to add such a capability and has plans in place, although nothing to announce yet. Eventually the plan is to run dedicated Asian fixed income portfolios.

Of the firm’s A$125 billion under management, around A$8.5 billion (6.8%) is from clients in Asia. It will update the numbers when it reports its latest results on August 16.

It has capabilities in real estate, infrastructure, fixed income, active equities, multi-manager and multi-asset portfolios.

It was the first Australian firm to be granted a QFII licence by China’s securities regulator in 2006. It received its first QFII quota of $200 million that year, followed by an additional $100 million in 2008. It has previously told AsianInvestor it is looking to add a third QFII tranche.

Ching previously worked as Hong Kong country head at Fidelity Investment Management, where she was responsible for institutional, wholesale and retail direct business. She has been on leave since February, although her last official day at Fidelity was July 31.

A spokeswoman for Fidelity in Hong Kong says Mark Talbot, managing director for Asia ex-Japan, will manage its Hong Kong team in the interim, although there are no plans to replace Ching.

In Hong Kong Talbot will work alongside Bruno Lee, Asia head of retail wealth management, Dominic Wong who takes care of wholesale business, and KP Luk on the institutional side. Fidelity’s country head for Singapore is Madeline Ho.