Wagstaff set for global CEO role at Skandia Investment Group
Skandia Investment Group (SIG) announced the appointment of Phil Wagstaff from Gartmore as its new global CEO, based in London. The firm is sitting on its expansion plans for Asia, but it has aspirations.

Wagstaff, who was global head of distribution and a member of Gartmore’s executive committee, is due to start on November 8. He becomes the third CEO of the firm within the last two years.

Last December Nils Bolmstrand stepped down to join Skandia’s Nordic business as head of product. His predecessor, Jamie MacLeod, left in September 2009 to become CEO of Berry Asset Management. Chief operating officer Mark Bulstrode has been acting CEO in the interim.

SIG is the wholly owned manager of managers business within the long term savings division of Old Mutual Group. It is a sister company of insurance business Skandia International (which is one of its clients). It effectively acts as gatekeeper of the funds platform.

SIG has 23 externally managed sub-funds under three ranges: Skandia Global, which is the range distributed in Asia, Skandia Fonder (Sweden) and Skandia Investment Management (UK).

Globally it manages around $23 billion, which included around $1 billion in Asia-based assets, although AsianInvestor understands this figure has shrunk a bit. It boasts around 45 investment professionals out of a global staff of 120.

In terms of products, SIG has two Asian equity funds, two emerging market debt and an emerging market equity fund. Only this week it launched a global futures fund out of Dublin that is currently undergoing approval by Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

Its manager research team is based in London and parts of Europe. In Asia it has six sales and marketing staff in Hong Kong, where it has a type 1 and type 4 licence. They also fly to Singapore and mainland China.

Jane Fung, executive director of Skandia Global Funds Asia-Pacific, says she is eager to see more Asia-centric product. She confirms conversations about Asia expansion have been held, but suggests decisions will not be made until next year.

Old Mutual is an asset management and insurance firm with £303 billion of funds under management.

Towers Watson names Asia-Pac head of its international consulting group
Consultancy Towers Watson promoted Stephen Yu to head its international consulting group (ICG) for Asia-Pacific, based in Shanghai.

He will be responsible for taking the firm’s range of solutions to global multi-national companies (MNCs) looking to Asia for growth, helping them to navigate multi-country complexities.

Yu, who was the firm’s Shanghai benefits business leader and actuary, replaces Gavin Watkins, who moves to a relationship management and adviser role specialising in globalisation of Asian MNCs.

Vietnam asset manager adds property veteran for special sits fund
Saigon Asset Management (SAM) announced the appointment of Peter Dinning to spearhead its special situations real estate asset fund and help with the repositioning of two existing funds.

The firm, headquartered in Ho Chi Minh, is investment manager of two Frankfurt-listed funds, Vietnam Equity Holding and Vietnam Property Holding, while its real estate fund is called Vietnam Alternative Holding.

Dinning joins as a senior managing director and has worked in the country since 1997. He is chairman of real estate service provider Colliers International (Vietnam) and was previously managing director of VinaCapital Real Estate.

Louis Nguyen, chief executive of SAM, praised Dinning’s experience in Vietnam’s property market, suggesting it would enhance the firm’s deal pipeline and its ability to reposition funds.

Threadneedle bolsters global equities team with new role
UK asset manager Threadneedle appointed Neil Robson from Martin Currie IM as fund manager in its global equities team in what it says is a newly created position.

Based in London, he joins this month as lead manager of the Threadneedle (Lux) Global Focus Fund, which prior to July 29 this year was called the Threadneedle (Lux) World Equities Fund.

His arrival brings the global equities team to eight, under the leadership of Jeremy Podger. The team manages £1.8 billion ($2.9 billion) and collaborates with the broader equities team.

In Asia Threadneedle has been adding staff as it seeks to bulk up. It hired Merrill Lynch’s former regional chairman Raymundo Yu, who came out of retirement to become Asia-Pacific chairman. He has made a number of hires, including June Wong from AllianceBernstein and Albert Lee, also formerly of Merrill Lynch.

Previously Robson was global portfolio manager for Martin Currie IM for just over a year and prior to that worked as head of global equities for Pioneer Asset Management. From 1996 to 2003 he was European and global equity manager for Baring Asset Management.

As at June 30 this year Threadneedle had 120 investment professionals and actively managed £68.8 billion across developed and emerging market equities, fixed income, commodities and UK property.

HKMEx appoints industry veteran as COO in expansion drive
The fledgling Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange (HKMEx) has named industry veteran William Barkshire to the newly created role of chief operating officer in a move to drive its expansion.

Having acted as senior adviser, Barkshire will now be responsible for driving strategy and developing strategic alliances and joint-ventures.

The commodities exchange only launched this May, and the appointment of a COO is demonstration of its commitment to growth, argues HKMEx chairman Barry Cheung.

Pointing to the exchange’s growth, he adds: “Our trading volumes are up in excess of 90% since debut and we have been adding new members to trade as market participants.”

Cheung believes Barkshire’s industry and commercial experience “will help us drive the exchange’s overall expansion as we continue in our journey to become China’s global marketplace”.

Barkshire has over 20 years’ experience as a broker and in management roles at major exchanges, post-trade services, and in the operation of alternative trading platforms. He was formerly director of corporate strategy at the London Stock Exchange.

Other moves reported by AsianInvestor this week:

Carlyle adds Shanghyun Lee as managing director in Seoul

South African FoHF manager sets up in Hong Kong

Guernsey asset manager takes first step in Asia build-out