UK-based Aviva Investors has further expanded its sales team with the hire of Lim Beng-Eu as Asia-Pacific head of institutional business development, and is ramping up its alternative-investments offering in the region.

Aviva says Lim's role is a newly created one, although Carolyn Lu had joined in June last year as Asia head of business development from Société Générale, but left the firm before the end of 2010 as reported by AsianInvestor in January. AsianInvestor could not ascertain her current whereabouts.

Lu did support the institutional business as part of her remit, but this is the first time Aviva has a dedicated business-development executive to support institutional clients.

Based in Singapore, Lim is responsible for building relationships with clients and consultants. He reports to Erich Gerth, CEO for global business development in London, and Tahnoon Pasha, Singapore CEO.

Lim joined Aviva from a similar role at Turner Investments in Singapore, where he has been since September 2008. The US firm is not thought to have replaced Lim as yet, and the firm did not respond to requests for confirmation by press time. Before that, he worked as institutional sales director at Prudential Asset Management, also in the Lion City. 

Aviva is focusing on two main areas in Asia, says Pasha, both of which make use of its alternatives capabilities.

“The first is leveraging on our global capabilities,” he tells AsianInvestor. “We do that by making available some of our global strategies in Asia.” Aviva has 13 funds on the recognised scheme, and recently added one absolute-return strategy onto the restricted recognised scheme. It is also adding one real-estate strategy to the market.  

Secondly, since the January appointment of the Asia CIOs for equities and fixed income, the teams are developing a range of traditional long-only to absolute-return-type strategies in Asian equities and Asian fixed-income products for both retail and institutional clients.

"Given the size of their assets, we believe institutional investors will always be looking for interesting fixed-income and equity strategies that can enhance their existing portfolio mix,” says Pasha. But he notes an increasing interest in alternative strategies from institutional clients in the region, including absolute-return and real-estate strategies.

Lim’s appointment follows the award, in May, of a $100 million qualified foreign institutional investor (QFII) quota, allowing Aviva to buy China A-shares and renminbi-denominated bonds, and the firm's winning a licence to sell institutional and retail funds in Taiwan in March.

Aviva’s Asia-Pacific CEO, Craig Bingham, stated his aim in May last year to reach a total headcount of 54 in Singapore by the end of 2011 across real estate, equities, fixed interest, sales, operations and compliance.