Argonaut sets sail on Hong Kong voyage of discovery
Perth-based commodities research firm Argonaut announced it had opened an office in Hong Kong, in the belief that the city will become a major source of capital for the resources sector.

Argonaut starts with six staff in the Central business district headed by managing director Travis Smithson, formerly an institutional salesman across long-only and hedge funds for JP Morgan.

His team consists of Angus McGeoch and Rachel Chan in institutional research sales, analyst Chris Jiang, Greg Southee in corporate finance and office manager Erica Chan. The firm also engages Perth-based institutional sales trader Damian Rooney.

Argonaut has been granted type 1 and 2 licences for dealing and advising on securities and a type 6 for advising on corporate finance by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

The firm tells AsianInvestor it has plans to triple in size within three years by adding up to six research-driven institutional salespeople, three analysts, four for corporate finance and three in support.

For now the firm continues to have administrative support from Perth and will look to outsource middle and back-office functions.

“The current investment cycle is difficult; however in our view the medium-to-long term macro drivers behind the super cycle in commodities remains intact,” says Argonaut CEO Edward Rigg.

He points to the continued urbanisation of China, India and other emerging economies as a trend not likely to be reversed, in particular its impact on energy demand. He also notes a hefty drop in share prices among resources stocks amid the depressed capital markets environment.

Argonaut, which describes itself as an advisory, stock-broking and investment house, plans to have the most comprehensive research coverage of metals, mining and energy firms listed on the Australian and Hong Kong stock exchanges, with market caps from $50 million to $5 billion.

Its strategy is for institutions to trade through it on the two exchanges depending on where it sees best value. It also has ambitions to expand its special situations financing division.

Ernst & Young confirms reshuffle in Asia-Pacific asset management
Accounting and auditing firm Ernst & Young announced five senior appointments in its Asia-Pacific asset management practice, the majority already reported by AsianInvestor.

Roy Stockell was transferred from London to head Asia-Pacific asset management for the firm based in Hong Kong. He had been leading the asset management group for Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, and previously worked for JP Morgan Asset Management and Invesco.

It came after Carlyon Knight-Evans quit as E&Y’s Far East asset management leader this May to join rival PwC as a partner in its asset management industry group. Knight-Evans is currently based in Singapore, although he is expected to transfer to Hong Kong within a few months.

Knight-Evans’ departure sparked a reshuffle at E&Y, which transferred two partners – George Saffayeh and Elliott Shadforth from New York and Sydney, respectively – to Hong Kong to bolster its practice.

Saffayeh’s experience ranges from servicing start-ups to large hedge funds of various strategies, while Shadforth focuses on asset classes including private equity, real estate and infrastructure.

E&Y also confirms that Teresa Tso has been transferred from its Shenzhen office to Hong Kong, while Christine Lin moves from auditing to asset management. Both are partners of the firm.

E&Y’s strategic objective is to continue to invest in its hedge fund business and alternatives, including real estate and private equity, and to boost its coverage of traditional, long-only funds.

AsianInvestor awarded PwC best provider of auditing services as well as tax services this year, with the ceremony poised to take place at the JW Marriott hotel in Hong Kong on November 22. Table bookings close on Monday, November 14.

Chen exits Deutsche to head principal investments for Macquarie
Macquarie Capital announced the appointment of Dan Chen from Deutsche Bank as its new chief officer of principal investments.

Chen comes in as a managing director based in Hong Kong where he will lead the bank’s principal investment initiatives in China. He will also be responsible for Macquarie’s telecommunications, media, entertainment and technology (TMET) franchise in China.

Previously Chen worked as managing director in the corporate and investment banking division of Deutsche Bank and chief representative of its Beijing rep office.

As at September 30 Macquarie had A$327 billion ($331 billion) in assets under management globally.

Fang to focus on private equity investing in China
CDIB Capital announced that Pamela Fang from had joined the firm as vice-president of its Hong Kong office, primarily to focus on private equity investments in Greater China.

She will also be involved in the investor relations effort for CDIB Capital, the overseas investing arm of its parent, China Development Financial Holding.

Previously Fang worked for GE Capital’s private equity group in the US in growth equity investing, leveraged buyouts and financial restructuring.

Consultancy hires new principal consultant in Singapore
Swiss management consulting firm Solution Providers announced that Sarah Luhesi was set to join this month as a principal consultant in its Singapore office.

Luhesi had most recently helped to establish a Singapore presence for Owen James, having previously worked for both Towers Watson and NMG Consulting.

Solution Providers advises clients in the banking and insurance industry on strategy and technical implementation. It has a total of 100 staff.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor this week:

Credit Suisse inserts Thiriet as Japan CEO

Alvarez and Marcel targets China turnarounds, opens Beijing branch

CIC names new president of Hong Kong subsidiary