MSCI hires new Japan head from Goldman Sachs Asset Management
MSCI announced that Kazuya Nagasawa had joined from Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) as managing director and head of Japan with overall responsibility for its presence in that market.

Nagasawa replaces Philippe Ballet, who has opted to retire at the end of February to spend more time with his family. Nagasawa will report to Baer Pettit, the firm’s global head of client coverage and marketing.

Prior to MSCI, Nagasawa worked in the quantitative investment strategies group at GSAM, where he had overall responsibility for that group within Japan since 2007. Before joining GSAM in 1998, he worked at Meiji Life Insurance for four years.

Mitchell swaps ASX with Chi-X Australia for business development role
Chi-X Australia, the wholly owned subsidiary of alternative trading venue operator Chi-X Global, has poached David Mitchell from ASX as business development manager.

Mitchell previously worked as North American regional manager for the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX). He has 17 years’ experience in financial markets, including international clearing supervisor at Deutsche Bank and treasury operations officer at Industrial Bank of Japan.

Chi-X Australia is striving to build scale and presence in the domestic cash equities market, having started operating just three months ago.

A spokesman for the firm tells AsianInvestor that Chi-X Australia’s market share since it started last November is bouncing around between 1-2%.

“It’s still very early days and we made clear from the outset that it was always going to be very quiet, with low volumes in the first few months,” he adds.

“As you’ll be aware, Australia goes to the beach at this time of year and not much happens. This is the first week when everyone is back from holidays. Over the next few months we will look to see how the market build is going.”

He says that Chi-X Australia has four or five sales staff in place, and points to Mitchell’s strength as his knowledge of potential offshore trading participants.

“We have been extremely careful not to set ourselves any targets," the spokesman notes. "Obviously we are keen to have a compelling offer and a significant presence in Australia.

“But some of the big trading firms have not opened up all their pools of liquidity because they have to make sure [Chi-X Australia] works. By the end of the second quarter we should have a  better idea.”

AsianInvestor interviewed Chi-X Australia’s director of markets and operations, Jason Keady, prior to launch to ask how he expected its introduction to change the competitive landscape in Australia (see article).

Real estate fund manager Prupim hires CEO, eyes Asia
M&G Investments announced the appointment of Alex Jeffrey as chief executive of its real estate fund management business Prupim.

Jeffrey is due to start in July based in London, taking up the reins from Martin Moore, who has been head of Prupim since 1996. Moore will become chairman to ensure a smooth transition, although he has expressed his intention to retire after 2012.

Prupim is one of the top 20 real estate fund managers in the world by assets under management with around £15 billion ($23.6 billion) across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. It offers global investors the opportunity to gain exposure to real estate principally via collective funds.

Its Asian property business was set up in Singapore in 2006, although Prupim had been investing in Asia on behalf of Prudential before that. It now has 20 staff in Singapore and S$2 billion ($1.6 billion) under management, making it responsible for 6.8% of Prupim’s global assets.

Prupim Singapore targets institutional clients and makes core property investments in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Asked about its plans for expansion in Asia, a Prupim spokesman replies: “It is too early to go into detail about that. But clearly the Singapore business was established because we see opportunities [in Asia]. It’s a core part of our global business and comes under [Jeffrey’s] remit.”

On his arrival, Jeffrey will join the main board of M&G and report to its chief executive Michael McLintock. Jeffrey had previously spent 13 years at MGPA, a private equity real estate investment advisory business. Most recently he was global chief investment officer in Singapore.

Meanwhile, M&G is in the process of setting up an office in Hong Kong and transferring staff to Asia, as reported by AsianInvestor late last year.

Viteos opens Asia HQ in Singapore, hires veteran for business development
Hedge fund administrator Viteos announced it had opened an Asia headquarters in Singapore and appointed industry veteran Jay Moghe as vice-president of business development for the region.

The firm says it will focus initially on addressing the needs of the Hong Kong and Singapore investment management market, providing fund administration, middle-office services and consulting  on implementation to hedge funds and family offices.

Prior to joining Viteos, Moghe performed a series of roles for Credit Suisse AG Prime Fund Services, Asian Alternative Consulting, OPAM/Stork Capital Management, APS Asset Management and Bloomberg tradebook.

Shankar Iyer, CEO of Viteos, says: “Our move into Asia Pacific reflects our belief that the market for ‘next generation’ fund services is underserved.” He added that Moghe’s experience and relationships would be key as it strives to expand its franchise.

Brokerage Newedge appoints new admin officer for Asia Pacific
Multi-asset brokerage and clearing house Newedge announced the appointment of Ronald Savino as chief administration officer for Asia-Pacific.

Based in Hong Kong, Savino reports to Laurent Cunin, the firm’s Asia-Pacific head, and comes in to replace Jens Winter, who moved to Frankfurt to assume the role as country head for Germany and Switzerland.

Savino had been head of Asia-Pacific futures and options for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch based in Hong Kong, where he was responsible for the regional listed derivatives businesses in Asia. Prior to that he was chief operating officer of Asia Global Markets Financing and Futures for BoA-Merrill.

Newedge is a 50:50 joint venture between Société Générale and Crédit Agricole. It offers clearing and execution covering options and futures for financial products and commodities, as well as money market instruments, bonds, FX, equities and commodities on OTC markets.

Equity alliance sees Global Sage create largest search firm in Asia-Pacific
Global Sage announced an equity alliance with Chinese firm Bó Lé Associates to form what it claims is the largest executive search company in Asia-Pacific.

The strategic partnership creates an alliance with offices from Johannesburg to London and New York and a presence in 24 cities across Asia-Pacific with more than 550 staff.

Both Global Sage and Bó Lé Associates are headquartered in Hong Kong and will continue to operate as independent firms.

Global Sage CEO John Wright suggests the alliance provides the company’s clients with unparalleled access to Asia, which he calls the dynamo of the global economy.

“At the same time it creates an unprecedented opportunity for our Asian clients looking to expand either into traditional markets such as Europe and North America or the fast emerging economies of the Middle East, Africa and South America.

“We’re very proud to be able to say we are the first executive search firm to have grown from Asian roots into a global brand.”

Global Sage specialises in financial services, while Bó Lé Associates is China’s largest integrated search firm with a strong presence in China, Southeast Asia and India.

Axa unveils management changes for China Region Insurance Company
Axa China Region Insurance Company announced two management changes on the distribution side in Hong Kong and has also added a chief health and protection officer.

Alger Fung was appointed chief proprietary distribution officer for Axa Hong Kong in an expanded role to spearhead the firm’s agency force, Swiss Privilege and franchise platform Integrity. Fung has spent 13 years with Axa and had been chief agency officer since July 2009.

Meanwhile Benjamin Li was named chief partnership distribution officer, also in an expanded role, to oversee Axa’s relationship with distribution partners including financial intermediaries, brokers (non-life), direct sales, direct tele-marketing and the firm’s business development unit.

He joined Axa in June 2006 as head of financial intermediaries, responsible for distribution and servicing of Axa products through brokers and independent financial advisers. He was promoted to chief of the broker and pension channel in December 2010.

And Elaine Chan joined as chief health and protection officer, effective from December 1. Prior to Axa she had spent eight years at AIA, where she was vice-president and head of corporate solutions.

Stuart Harrison, CEO of Axa Hong Kong, says Fung and Li’s expanded roles reinforces the firm’s commitment to providing innovative products and services through its distribution network. He also suggests Chan’s addition will enable Axa to take advantage of “the vast opportunities in Hong Kong”.

Axa China Region is a member of the global Axa Group, which deals in financial protection and wealth management.

BlackRock’s Asia-Pac head of institutional marketing joins Investec
Renee Howie has left BlackRock, where she was Hong Kong-based head of institutional marketing for Asia Pacific, to join Investec Bank in Sydney.

She started last month as head of marketing and communications for Australia at the South African banking and asset-management group, replacing Claire Linton-Evans, who has moved to property group Lend Lease. She reports to Australia chief executive David Clarke.

Howie had joined BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset management firm, in July 2010 after eight years at the Macquarie group, most recently as marketing head for Macquarie Global Investments.

BlackRock is seeking a replacement for Howie.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor this week

Paris-based Comgest embarks on Asia buildout

Funds selection chief exits Standard Chartered