Au King-lun leaves HSBC to head FRM in Hong Kong

Au exits HSBC Global Asset Management after 11 years to cross over to the hedge fund business.
Financial Risk Management (FRM) û a global fund of hedge funds group with offices in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia û has named Au King-lun as CEO of FRM Hong Kong Limited.

Au will lead FRMÆs business efforts in Asia ex-Japan and ex-Korea, and will also head FRMÆs newly opened Hong Kong office. He will assume his role in FRM in September.

Au has just left HSBC Global Asset Management, where he has been replaced by Patrice Conxicoeur as head of institutional business for Asia-Pacific. [Please see separate story.]

Joining FRM is a big move for Au, who has worked at HSBC for the past 11 years, where he was overseeing substantial institutional client assets in the Asia-Pacific region in his most recent role.

Although this will be his first time to work for a hedge fund organisation, AuÆs institutional business background is expected to help him expand FRMÆs business in the region.

ôThe firm has long been known for its strength in serving institutions and for its deep expertise in hedge funds,ö Au says. ôAsian investors are increasing allocations to hedge funds because of the absolute, uncorrelated returns and flexible investment strategies they can offer.ö

FRM opened its Hong Kong office in May 2008, building on its presence in Asia, including offices in Tokyo and Sydney that opened in 2000 and 2001, respectively. The Hong Kong office is comprised of both investment and client service staff, and is expected to strengthen the firmÆs research coverage of Asian hedge funds and provide enhanced client services for its growing base of investors in the region. FRM expects to increase its allocations to Asian hedge funds, and its newly launched hedge fund seeding business, FRM Capital Advisors, is also seeking to invest in new managers in the region.

As one of the largest independent fund of hedge fund groups worldwide, FRM manages more than $15 billion in assets for institutions and other sophisticated investors, including around 300 pension funds. Around half of that AUM comes from clients in Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Paul Dunning, London-based CEO of FRM, says AuÆs appointment underscores the significant increase in resources the firm is devoting to serve investors in the Asia region. Over time, Au will oversee the ôfurther material expansionö of the Hong Kong-based manager research and client relations teams, he says.

At present and until Au comes on board, DunningÆs role includes being responsible for marketing and client services teams in Asia, with the exception of Japan and Korea. Dunning, who Au will be reporting to, is also an alumnus of the HSBC family. Prior to joining FRM, Dunning was CEO of HSBC Republic Investments, a fund of funds division of HSBC.

Meanwhile, FRM is planning to open an office in Seoul in late-2008 to begin work on the process of obtaining licenses from the Korean regulatory authorities in 2009. That Seoul office is expected to provide client services to Korean institutional clients, which are currently served through the firmÆs Tokyo office. Akio Shimazu manages FRMÆs Tokyo-based operations and he is responsible for business development and client services to Japanese and Korean investors.

ôThe hedge fund industry is now global, and as a fund of hedge funds group we believe it is essential to maintain a research presence in all regions where compelling hedge fund investment opportunities exist,ö says Blaine Tomlinson, founder and group chairman of FRM. ôThe Asian hedge fund industry is undergoing rapid growth in both size and quality, as structural changes in Asian markets are creating rich opportunities for investors.ö
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