Man Group sets out to build equity investment presence in Asia
Man Group has appointed ex-GIC portfolio manager David Mercurio as its first Asia-based investment specialist focused on equities, particularly China.

Mercurio is set to join the alternatives fund manager next month as its new head of Asia equity and co-head of global equity strategies and will operate primarily out of its Hong Kong office.

His hire is seen as a first step as the firm moves to expand its equity investment management capabilities in Asia. He reports to Pierre Lagrange, senior managing director of asset management firm and Man subsidiary GLG and executive committee member at Man.

Lagrange, who is also co-head of global equity strategies, tells AsianInvestor: "We have a lot of investments in Asia, and with Man completing the acquisition of GLG last year, it gives us the right platform to increase our investment presence in Asia."

Asked what plans the firm has for building an Asian investment presence, he adds: "We will do what needs to be done to be able to analyse companies on the ground. We are adding equity to our existing currency and credit team in Asia."

Mercurio previously worked for the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) since 2001. He has experience across both corporate finance and buy-side investment roles.

In addition to his responsibilities of managing GLG’s global long-only and long-short equity portfolios out of London, Lagrange takes over the role of Man’s Asia chairman to oversee the expansion of Man’s investment management activities in the region.

“A better local understanding of Asian economies and markets, and China in particular, is crucial to the future of successful global investing,” he adds.

He notes that the firm will be hiring locally rather than bringing people over from New York, where it has 30 people focusing on equity and credit.

Man has offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Sydney and gained a trading licence in Hong Kong last year. About 25% of its $71 billion in global funds under management is sourced from Asia-Pacific.

As at June 30 it had 70 trading, sales and distribution staff in Asia. "We aim to continue to build our presence," adds Lagrange.

Barclays Wealth fills roles in North Asia advisory
Barclays Wealth has hired Fabien Neo from Credit Suisse as head of FX advisory for Asia and Chi Lee from Bank of Montreal as head of active advisory and investment solutions for North Asia. Both roles are based in Hong Kong.

Neo was brought in on September 1 to lead teams in Hong Kong and Singapore and to oversee FX advisory services and execution of all FX-related products offered for private clients. He replaces Gareth Sung, who left the bank to pursue other opportunities.

"This is an area Barclays Wealth is looking to build as FX remains a key area of interest for many of our ultra-high and high-net-worth clients and is an important asset class as part of their overall portfolios," says Bryan Henning, head of global research and investments Asia at Barclays Wealth.

At Credit Suisse Neo had been regional head of North Asia advisory, where he had helped to build up the Swiss firm’s FX capabilities in Singapore before moving to Hong Kong to spearhead onshore FX products developments into China and Japan.

As for Lee, he joined Barclays Wealth as a director on September 19. He fills a role that has been open since the death of Partha Roychoudhury in July last year. The team has been managed in the interim by Henning.

As well as managing the Hong Kong-based active advisory team, Lee will work closely with North Asia market head Pakorn Boonyakurkul and regional bankers to provide investment solutions and advisory to wealthy clients.

Sources suggest Barclays Wealth has around 10 advisers within its active advisory team and about 10 in its FX advisory team across Asia.

Henning notes that Asia's growing band of wealthy entrepreneurs are increasingly sophisticated but time-poor for monitoring their wealth portfolios. "They are looking for their private banks to be on hand to provide them with timely market information and advice to exploit markets," he says.

At Bank of Montreal Lee had served as head of its Hong Kong private bank and head of Asia wealth management, where he had build up a private banking business and managed a team of investment advisers.

Both Neo and Lee report to Henning.

EdR AM looks to emerging markets with hires, fund launches
Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management hired Thomas Gerhardt from DWS as head of emerging markets and commodities and pledged to recruit more managers and to launch two EM funds by the end of this year.

Gerhardt joined on September 1 based in Frankfurt and reporting to CIO Phillipe Uzan. His team comprises 10 fund managers in Paris, Hong Kong and Frankfurt covering emerging markets.

The firm says it will hire four more fund managers in Hong Kong and Frankfurt by the end of 2011. At present it has six Asian equities specialists in Hong Kong.

It is planning to launch two new emerging market funds this year: one focused on large Asian groups which are leaders in their sector, and the other to invest across the Latin American zone. These will be sold to institutional and individual investors.

It has also not ruled out bolstering its thematic approach by launching funds invested in specific zones such as Africa and Eastern Europe.

The firm manages around $3.4 billion in emerging market equity funds. It launched its first Asian equity fund in 1993 and the Saint-Honoré China fund in 1998.

Gerhardt began his career at KPMG and in 1994 moved to equity fund management at DWS, the asset management subsidiary of Deutsche Bank.

Edmond de Rothschild AM had €13.9 billion ($18.8 billion) in assets under management in investment mandates and 27 open-ended funds registered in 15 countries as at the end of August.

CDIB Capital eyes Shanghai office, adds Gao for China PE
CDIB Capital announced that Victor Gao had joined the firm in a newly created role as managing director to lead its private equity investments in mainland China.

The Hong Kong-headquartered firm was launched in 2006 as the overseas investing arm of Taiwan-listed merchant bank China Development Financial Holding, which has $12 billion in assets.

It manages $1 billion in proprietary capital through private equity and equity-linked investments, primarily in Asia and the US. Outside of Hong Kong, it has offices in Seoul and San Francisco.

Its style is to chase growth capital by becoming a minority investor in fast-growing firms. It also participates in leveraged buyouts. It focuses on four sectors: consumer, telecom & media, industrials and manufacturing and financial services.

CDIB is understood have applied to open an office in Shanghai, which presumably it has brought Gao in to run. The chairman and CIO of the group is Paul Yang. He has 30 staff spread across Hong Kong, Seoul, Taipei and San Francisco, of whom around 18 are investment professionals.

"We are a young franchise and we are hiring people," confirms Lionel de Saint Exupery, CDIB president.

The company is building a pan-Asia credit business and is recruiting for its leveraged and acquisition finance team. It also looking to add someone for proprietary fund of funds.

Further, the firm is in the process of launching a small regional RMB fund for cross-Strait investment opportunities, primarily in the technology sector.

Gao joined the firm in early August. He had been managing director and China head for Greater Pacific Capital, a private equity firm focused on China and India. Prior to that he was managing director and China chairman of Sun Capital Partners, a global turnaround PE firm.

He has also served as chairman and president of Eaton (China) Investment Corporation and had responsibility for Eaton’s M&A operations in Asia-Pacific. Plus he has served as treasurer of the Chinese affiliates of both General Motors and Delphi, a spin-off from GM.

Royal Skandia adds in North and Southeast Asia
Royal Skandia moved to split its regional responsibilities, announcing new appointments and an internal promotion as it strives to build out its presence in Asia.

David McDonald, who was Royal Skandia's Asia head, has been reassigned to head of sales in Singapore to concentrate on developing the business in Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Mike Leeson has been promoted to head of sales in Hong Kong, focused on North Asia. The firm also named Jason Pearce as area manager for Hong Kong and North Asia. Pearce, who reports to Leeson, had worked at Skandia Life in the UK for the past eight years.

Further, Craig Cheyne was named area sales manager for Singapore and Southeast Asia, having worked in the UK financial services sector since 1988.

MF Global appoints its first Asia chief economist
UK broker-dealer MF Global has hired Louis Kuijs from the World Bank office in Beijing as its first chief economist for Asia as the firm continues its transition into an investment bank.

Kuijs joined on September 1 based in Hong Kong. He will complement analysis provided by the firm’s US-based chief economist James O’Sullivan.

MF Global has more than 750 employees across Asia-Pacific covering both institutional and retail markets. Its regional hub is Singapore, and it also has a presence in Hong Kong, Australia, Japan, China, Taiwan, India and Dubai.

Earlier this year, AsianInvestor reported that MF Global had put together its first Greater China equity equities research, sales and trading team.

Kuijs has 18 years’ experience in macroeconomic analysis and policy work across regions. He spent seven years as a senior economist at the World Bank office in Beijing, coordinating the bank’s analysis on China. Prior to this he worked as an economist at the International Monetary Fund in Washington for seven years.

MF Global is a broker of commodities and listed derivatives and delivers trading and hedging solutions as a broker-dealer.

Franklin Templeton hires first Malaysia head of fixed income
Franklin Templeton Investments has poached Nor Hanifah Binti Hashim as head of fixed income for Malaysia from the same position at CIMB-Principal Asset Management.

She started the newly created role this month in Kuala Lumpur, overseeing Franklin Templeton’s domestic fixed-income business in Malaysia, which includes conventional fixed-income and sukuk strategies. Hanifah will also work closely with the local asset management fixed-income group in the Middle East on global sukuk mandates.

She reports to Stephen Dover, chief investment officer of the local asset management group based in Franklin Templeton’s California headquarters.

Previously head of fixed income for six years at CIMB-Principal, Hanifah tendered her resignation on 17 June. Wong Loke-Chin and Ng Tsu-Miin have been named as acting co-heads for fixed-income investment at CIMB-Principal AM. Both are senior portfolio managers overseeing sovereign and corporate bond trading strategies, respectively.

Citi PB to build North America Asian clients group
Citi Private Bank appointed Ida Liu as managing director and head of its newly formed North America Asian Clients group based in New York.

The group will initially focus on providing strategic advice and tailored solutions to Asian ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It will add hires as its client base grows and as it expands to other US markets, says the bank.

Liu was a senior private banker based in Citi PB’s New York office, having previously worked as an investment banker in New York and Hong Kong.

Moves reported earlier this week on AsianInvestor.net:

EIP hires Tang as head of business development

PwC unveils partner trio in HK, sets revenue goal