Kwan swaps Barings for Harvest in fixed income push
Harvest Global Investments has poached Thomas Kwan from Baring Asset Management as its head of fixed income in a newly created role, AsianInvestor can confirm.

Kwan started this month as a director based in Hong Kong and has been brought in with a hiring mandate to build out the international investment arm’s fixed income team in the city.

It comes after Kwan had worked at Barings in Hong Kong for just nine months, having been appointed last April from ICBC Credit Suisse in Beijing as the firm’s first head of Asian debt.

Kwan now reports to Peng-wah Choy, CEO of Harvest Global Investments, and to Janice Dai, the firm’s Beijing-based chief investment officer.

“The business direction of the company is to broaden into other sectors,” Kwan tells AsianInvestor. “We already have a strong equity team, so the logical next step is fixed income.”

Asked why he left Barings after such a short stint, Kwan says it was more a case of spotting an opportunity than any dissatisfaction with the role. “I think over the next few years we will see China dominate the Asian bond market,” he explains.

“Being part of a Chinese firm with expertise on Chinese companies will offer advantages in terms of managing Asian bond portfolios. If you are working with someone without a strong Chinese background and expertise in Chinese companies, you are not in the right place.”

Kwan explains that Harvest is seeking to use the renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) opportunity to build up its fixed income capability in Hong Kong. The firm recently received a Rmb1.1 billion quota and expects to utilise it in full.

It is currently engaged in fundraising for an open-ended RQFII fund investing chiefly in the Chinese fixed income market with a mix of bonds from the government, quasi-sovereigns, state-owned enterprises and corporates. It will also be able to invest from zero to 20% in equities.

Harvest launched a month-long IPO process on January 16, with the fund due to begin operation on February 22 for retail, high-net-worth and institutional investors.

Kwan notes that he is working with one fund manager in Hong Kong at Harvest and that they use a team of five credit analysts based in Beijing.

In terms of hiring, he says he is looking to add a fund manager with a strong high-yield credit background based in Hong Kong and in time will seek to bring in a team of credit analysts to cover other Asian issuers.

Ian Pascal, head of marketing and communications for Barings, notes that Kwan left for personal reasons when asked to provide a reason for his quickfire departure.

“However, we are in the process of recruiting an experienced Asian debt manager and expect to be able to make an announcement in the next few weeks,” he adds.

Zehner takes global capital markets role with LaSalle
LaSalle Investment Management announced the appointment of Jon Zehner from Area Property Partners to the newly created role of head of global capital markets, effective from next month.

He will be responsible for leading LaSalle’s global activities relating to capital-raising, new product development, merchant banking and strategic cross-border investments with partners.

Based in London, Zehner will become a member of the firm’s global management committee and will work directly with Jeff Jacobson, LaSalle’s global chief executive officer.

“Global investors are requiring an ever-increasing level of sophistication, customised solutions and ideas from their managers, including co-investment, club and joint-venture deals,” says Jocobson in a statement, praising Zehner’s transactions experience and global relationships.

A spokesperson for LaSalle says the firm is increasingly targeting investments in Asia. As at September 30 last year it had a global AUM of $47.7 billion, of which Asia-Pacific accounted for $8.9 billion.

Of this Asia figure, Japan accounted for 58% of assets, followed by Australia with 17% and Singapore with 10%. The firm also covers South Korea, Hong Kong, China and Macau.

LaSalle’s Asian operation was established in 2000, since when its Asia-Pacific transaction team has completed more than $12 billion in property deals in the region.

Zehner was previously a senior director at Area Property Partners, prior to which he had a 28-year career at JP Morgan Chase & Co, where he held a number of senior positions including global head of real estate investment banking and head of sub-Saharan Africa.

Robert Walters seeks to fill void with new Taipei office
Recruitment firm Robert Walters announced it had expanded its Asian network by opening a new office in Taipei to cover banking and financial services, IT and sales and marketing.

Lee Tze Yong, country manager for the firm in Taiwan, explains that it is hoping to fill what it sees as a void in middle to senior level specialist recruitment there. “We will strive to provide the best career opportunities to Taiwanese candidates both locally and internationally,” he says.

The expansion of Robert Walters’s Asia footprint into Taiwan increases the group’s reach to 47 offices in 23 countries. It also recently opened a new China office in Nanjing’s central business district, its fourth in the country after Shanghai, Suzhou and Beijing.