In a move that signals an increased focus on Asia-Pacific, The Bank of New York Mellon has appointed Chris Sturdy to a new position as chairman of the region. This is the first time the bank, which is active within asset management and securities servicing (largely custody-related businesses), will have such a senior representative based in Asia. It indicates that it is ready to expand the business further following the merger between The Bank of New York and Mellon Financial Corporation in the middle of last year.

Sturdy, who will relocate to Hong Kong for his new position, joined BoNY in 1982 and has held various positions in the bank both in London and New York. He became head of the bankÆs depositary receipt (DR) business in 2003 and has also spent the past eight years focusing on developing new businesses for the bank in the Asia-Pacific region from his base in New York. During this period he has travelled extensively in Asia and has made ôwell over 20ö visits to Japan and China. He expects to be full-time in Hong Kong before the end of June.

In his new role, Sturdy will chair the bankÆs Asia-Pacific management committee and will report to Ronald OÆHanley, who is vice-chairman of The Bank of New York Mellon, head of its global asset management business and the executive committee member responsible for overseeing the Asia-Pacific region. A second reporting line will go to chief client management officer Torry Berntsen.

SturdyÆs current job as head of the DR division will be taken over by Michael Cole-Fontayn, who is now in charge of sales development within the division. Prior to 2003 he was head of DRs for Europe, Middle East and Africa for three years. The Bank of New York Mellon is one of four global DR banks and manages more than 1,300 global and American DR programmes on behalf of clients in 63 different countries. About 400 of those clients are based in Asia-Pacific.

Like for most of its competitors, Asia-Pacific has become a very important growth region for Bank of New York over the past few years and it currently has 16 offices in 12 countries and more than 3,000 staff in the region. Consequently, it ômakes sense,ö to have someone based here focusing exclusively on the region and following the merger with Mellon ôwe felt this is the time to accelerate that growth and put extra focus on Asia,ö Sturdy says in a phone interview.

Some areas where the bank already has a large Asia footprint but sees strong potential for further growth, are asset management, asset servicing (including payments and trade services for which Asia is a very important region) and DRs. But Sturdy also notes a new business - alternative investment manager servicing û which focuses on providing back- and mid-office services such as reporting, trade servicing and compliance to the growing number of hedge funds and private equity funds in the Asia-Pacific region.

This is a business that Bank of New York Mellon has put in place over the past few months and will be building up further, he says. State Street has traditionally been very active in this area, but as the number of hedge funds has multiplied, other banks, including Deutsche Bank, have started to make inroads.

ôI feel there is an important role for us to play here as we have a very prominent role within this area in the US and Europe,ö Sturdy says, adding that this means the bank is moving into the new business from a position of strength. ôWe already have the infrastructure and expertise in place. ItÆs a matter of translating that geographically to the region and growing with the markets that are out there.ö

Aside from the obvious post-merger task of integrating the expertise from two separate banks, the new chairman will also aim to work between business lines to produce new solutions and products that will be needed by Asian players, making use of the bankÆs core businesses within asset management, custody, DRs and corporate trust.

ôWhat we are seeing in Asia is tremendous growth in different markets at different pace and also a lot of regulatory changes,ö Sturdy says. ôAnd every time we see change, we see new opportunities arise as players seek to take advantage and grow their businesses. We grow with them, providing execution services, reporting services and custodial services û and we manage their assets as they become available.ö

With regard to staffing, Sturdy says he believes the bank will be growing the number of people in Asia ôconsiderablyö over the next few years ôto keep pace with the growth in the business lines.ö

One of the places where it expects to hire more people is for its back- and mid-office opearations in India, which are focused on software development and the provision of services for the bankÆs custody and personal wealth management businesses. On the front office side, he expects to need more people for the trust business and to support the payment and trade services business in China and the DR business across the region. And of course, for the new alternative investments business, which currently has only a about a handful of dedicated staff.