French asset manager Amundi is looking to bulk out its Asian distribution team as part of its plan to expand its investor base and boost assets under management by over 40% in the next three years.

At present the firm has 15 staff in global distribution across Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Japan, but it is now seeking to add an unspecified number of employees to its Hong Kong and Taiwan offices over the next year, says Xiaofeng Zhong, North Asia CEO.

“We’re definitely looking to hire. It’s very hard to give specific numbers, but we’re adding sales, product and marketing people in North Asia,” Zhong tells AsianInvestor.

The firm has 36 distribution staff in France, Germany, Benelux, Spain, Italy, the Nordics, Switzerland and the UK. The hires will boost Amundi’s presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which is becoming increasingly competitive as asset managers vie for distributors’ attention, Zhong says.

Appointed North Asia CEO last September to oversee Amundi’s regional institutional and distribution business, Zhong helped to set up the firm's second North Asia distribution office in Taiwan in December 2012.

Previously he spent 16 years at Crédit Agricole in a variety of roles, most recently as managing director of Crédit Agricole Corporate and its investment bank in Beijing. He joined Amundi in December 2011.

Amundi, the asset management arm of Crédit Agricole and Société Générale, aims to partner more private banks, retail banks and insurance companies for distribution this year as part of its effort to expand its investor base.

At the moment, excluding distribution, the majority of Amundi Hong Kong’s investors are sovereign wealth funds, central banks, pension funds, endowments, foundations and insurance companies. The firm is keen to broaden this, Zhong says.

“Our focus is really to strengthen our position in the sovereign institutional space but also to enlarge our customers on the non-sovereign side, as well as vigorously develop the third-party distribution business,” Zhong says.

It all fits into the French firm’s goal to boost its Asian assets from $70 billion today to over $100 billion by 2016.

The firm also has plans to roll out a series of Hong Kong-domiciled funds, including an Asian equity dividend product and a number of fixed income strategies, a decision made after Hong Kong’s securities regulator announced plans to allow RMB mutual funds to trade between mainland China and Hong Kong in January.

Zhong declines to offer an update on the funds.