Vohra comes in to replace Bruno Lee at HSBC
HSBC announced the appointment of Vinneet Vohra from ANZ Singapore as its new regional head of wealth development for Asia-Pacific to focus on retail distribution.

Based in Hong Kong, Vohra started on March 5 as a direct replacement for Bruno Lee, the former head of wealth management for Asia-Pacific who left the bank at the end of last year to take up a job with Fidelity Worldwide Investment as head of retail business for Asia ex-Japan.

Despite the minor change in job title, it’s essentially the same role. Wealth development is a function that falls under HSBC’s Retail Banking and Wealth Management division.

Vaohra has been tasked with leading the build-out of the bank’s wealth management capabilities in Asia. A company spokeswoman did not confirm whether he would have a hiring mandate, and Vohra has not been available for interview this week.

“The fast growing and large pools of wealth being created in Asia will stimulate increased demand for wealth management solutions,” notes Louisa Cheang, HSBC’s group general manager and Asia-Pacific head of retail banking and wealth management in a statement.

Last July HSBC appointed Simon Williams from Camelot Financial Capital as group head of wealth management, also based in Hong Kong. His job is to deliver growth in retail banking and wealth management businesses internationally.

Before joining HSBC, Vohra worked for almost three years at ANZ in Singapore, where he was Asia-Pacific general manager across wealth management, private banking and retail banking. Before that he was CEO of ING India and also spent around 20 years working for Citibank.

His exit from ANZ follows that of Nina Aguas, who was managing director for Asia-Pacific private banking at ANZ Group. She spent three years with the firm in Singapore.

BlackRock installs Pacini to drive growth in its alternatives business
BlackRock announced the appointment of Joseph Pacini from JP Morgan Private Bank (Asia) in a newly created role to drive the firm’s alternatives business across the region.

Based in Hong Kong and effective from March 1, Pacini takes the title head of BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI) Strategy Group for Asia-Pacific ex-Japan.

He will work closely with the group to develop client-focused alternative investment strategies and build out BlackRock’s Asian alternatives platform and product offering.

Globally BAI manages about $105 billion in alternative assets as at December 31, including single strategy hedge funds, private equity, real estate, fund of hedge funds, PE fund of funds and special situations opportunities.

BAI boasts around 350 employees globally, while in Asia-Pacific its staff members are located throughout the region, with the main hubs in Hong Kong, Japan and Australia.

“Driving the alternatives agenda is one of BlackRock’s five strategic priorities for 2012 and one which is particularly important in the Asia-Pacific region given the growth of assets and the increasing importance of the region’s client base,” says Mark McCombe, BlackRock’s chairman.

He adds that the level of demand for alternatives from Asian institutions is increasing and suggests that markets and regulatory environments are becoming more favourable for such investments. “Importantly, the ability to generate alpha in the region is also strong for the astute investor,” he states.

Functionally Pacini reports to Rick Arney, head of hedge funds for BAI Strategy Group, and regionally to McCombe.

Prior to joining BlackRock, Pacini headed the alternative investments team for JP Morgan Private Bank (Asia). Prior to joining JP Morgan in 2003 he worked at Bain Capital in London.

Separately, JP Morgan Worldwide Securities Services (WSS) announced that Stephanie Miller had joined as its global head of its Alternative Investment Services business based in New York. She reports to Nick Rudenstine, global head of investor services for WSS.

BNP Paribas IP appoints Asia-Pac head for its THEAM business
French asset manager BNP Paribas Investment Partners announced it had named Alexandra Solnik as Asia-Pacific head of its specialist investment partner THEAM in a newly created role.

She started on February 1 based in Hong Kong and is responsible for devising business strategies and promoting its structured and indexed solutions in Asia including index funds and ETFs, as well as alternative investment solutions.

Her team in Hong Kong consists of two portfolio managers and one sales person, and AsianInvestor understands the business is looking to grow this team on the sales side.

Solnik has an Asia-Pacific remit, while THEAM Asia mostly targets Japan, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and China.

THEAM managed €43 billion in AUM as at December 31, of which Asia represents 1-2%, a spokesperson confirms. The goal for the business is to increase this to 5-10% in the mid-term.

Paris-headquartered THEAM was created last March via a merger between Harewood Asset Management, formed from the equity derivatives division of BNP Paribas Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB) in 2004, and the Sigma team of BNP Paribas Asset Management.

It started with €50 billion in AUM and comprised 120 investment and market professionals, backed by a 500-strong sales force from BNP Paribas IP and CIB.

Initially the merged entity focused on five domestic markets – France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – with the goal of doubling its AUM to €100 billion by 2016.

The aim is to provide global investment solutions to its European institutional and high-net-worth clients, with the plan to expand into Asia and North America. The appointment of Solnik represents the first step in its Asia expansion.

THEAM draws on the skills of the old Sigma team in index and guaranteed portfolio management, risk allocation and absolute return strategies, and Harewood AM’s experience in systematic funds, the use of innovative underlying assets and fund of hedge funds.

In the past year it has created a fund replicating a risk-efficient index in cooperation with EDHC Risk Institute and FTSE, while it has also expanded its range of multi-asset absolute return strategies.

Solnik has worked for BNP Paribas AM for the past eight years, most recently in its alternative investments sales team. She started her career in 2001 as a structurer in credit derivatives and trading, first at BNP Paribas Securities (Japan) and then with Natixis Capital Markets in France.

Harvest goes internal to replace star portfolio manager
Chinese fund management firm Harvest announced that Ma Huiming would replace star portfolio manager Zou Wei, who quit to focus on private equity investments with Citic.

Ma will now manage the Harvest Theme Fund, one of the firm’s best performing funds with an accumulated return of 270% since inception in July 2006.

Zou had joined Harvest in 2003 as an analyst and worked through the ranks to become a portfolio manager. In 2007, he took up the baton from Wang Guiwen to manage the Harvest Theme Fund. Wang later set up his own private fund – Gloria Investment Management.

Zou has also managed Harvest Prudent Balanced Fund and Harvest Strategy Balanced Fund. He was ranked as one of the best portfolio managers of 2009, with his Theme equity fund the only one to record a positive return in the first half of 2010, when the A-share market corrected.

Ma joined Harvest in October 2004 as an analyst. He was subsequently promoted to investment manager and deputy director of institutional investment.

Northern Trust hires equity index portfolio manager
Northern Trust has hired Nigel Tyler as senior index equity portfolio manager to manage global equity index portfolios for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Emea) in London.

The firm runs several index strategies from London, including developed- and emerging-market equities, small-cap equities and futures- and currency-overlay.

Tyler brings 23 years’ industry experience to the role which, in addition to pure index management, includes a background in “enhanced indexing and trading”.

He joins from State Street Global Advisors, where he was a senior portfolio manager for global equity beta solutions. Before that he was a passive and enhanced equity portfolio manager at Gulf International Bank in London for nine years.

Tyler reports to Nick Dymond, head of index equity portfolio management for Emea, who stresses that the trend for institutional investors to allocate assets to passive mandates is well documented.

Tyler’s hire follows the build-out of Northern Trust’s portfolio management and dealing capabilities in Asia-Pacific, including several appointments in Hong Kong announced last year.

Northern Trust provides index portfolio management services from four global locations: Chicago, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The firm had $290.3 billion in assets under management in index strategies as part of its global $662.9 billion in AUM, as well as assets under custody of $4.3 trillion.

BNY Mellon names country executive for India
Investment management and servicing firm BNY Mellon named Aneish Kumar as country executive for India and chief rep of the company’s representative office in Mumbai.

He succeeds Navneet Singh, who retired this February. Kumar will continue to be based in Mumbai and will be responsible for developing BNY Mellon’s presence in India, regulatory relations and advising on overall country strategy.

Kumar has been with BNY Mellon since 1998 and was appointed head of treasury services for India in 2009. He reports to Asia-Pacific chairman Steve Lackey and to Asia-Pacific head of treasury services Richard Brown.

Other people moves reported by AsianInvestor in the past week:

Korean pension fund hires pro-global CIO

I'm intent on acquisitions, says Nikko AM's new chief

Manulife AM hires institutional sales head for South Asia