Amundi has acquired the RM4 billion ($1.2 billion) fixed income business of Kuala Lumpur-based KAF Group, in a move the French firm says will make it the biggest asset manager in Malaysia, with RM14 billion in AUM.

Roslina Abdul Rahman, managing director of Amundi Malaysia, will head the expanded company, reporting to Jenny Sofian, chief executive for Southeast Asia and Australia. Thariq Ahmad, former CEO of KAF Fund Management, will become senior adviser and head of fixed income strategies.

The deal expands the firm’s global and local sukuk expertise to conventional local fixed income capabilities. KAF FM manages a bond and money market fund and was a subsidiary of Malaysian banking group KAF.

Post-acquisition Amundi Malaysia has 23 staff, of which nine are investment professionals. That is a rise of a total headcount of eight at the end of 2012.

Asked whether there would be departures as a result of the takeover, Pascal Blanqué, group deputy CEO and chief investment officer at Amundi, said. “There is no overlap in capabilities. The fixed income expertise we have acquired is highly complementary to our existing investment capabilities in Malaysian conventional and sharia equities as well as our sukuk management.”

Amundi declined to say how much it paid for KAF FM.

The acquisition continues Amundi’s buildout in Southeast Asia, where it plans to open a Thailand branch in the first half of this year, as reported by AsianInvestor in January. 

At the time in January, Blanqué also told AsianInvestor that Amundi plans to boost its 15 distribution staff in Asia to 20 this year.

“We expect further hiring [in Kuala Lumpur] in 2014, following our external growth plans,” he said. “Our offering includes both equities and bonds on the conventional and Islamic sides. It is also possible to further strengthen the fixed income side through external growth.”

Amundi is also looking strengthen its offering in Singapore, including introducing its global aggregate and Asian fixed income funds there. This follows the launch of the firm’s international Sicav fund in the Lion City in July last year.

The French firm is not alone in focusing on Southeast Asian expansion, with Manulife Asset Management acquiring a Malaysian fund business, MAAKL Mutual, in November.

Indonesia has also been a focus for foreign fund firms in recent years. Aberdeen agreed to buy Jakarta-based NISP Asset Management in February, and Ashmore took an 85% share in local player Buana Megah Abadi early last year.

Other firms getting in on the action in Southeast Asia are Japan's Nikko Asset Management, which acquired boutique firm Treasury Asia (which has offices in Singapore and Sydney). In addition, Hong Kong-based Value Partners is setting up an office in Singapore.

Amundi has 777 billion ($1.07 trillion) in assets under management as of September 2013, $56 billion of which is sourced from Asia-Pacific clients.