Chicago-based Bank One, the fifth-largest bank holding company in the United States, is about to enter the asset management business throughout Asia. It has just hired Paul Rubens from FarEastern Alliance Asset Management in Taiwan to run its regional effort in Tokyo as managing director.

Rubens notes Bank One has enjoyed a corporate banking presence in Japan and the rest of the region for decades, sometimes under the name of First Chicago. It plays a role in trade finance and correspondent banking. "I will be working with the bankers to take the asset management product to their clients," he says.

The initial focus will be selling to corporate pension funds, but Bank One has retail ambitions as well. It is starting a line of offshore funds for Asia's retail markets, says Rubens, noting the bank will focus on its strengths such as fixed-income funds. But the priority will be institutional, with most of Rubens' effort concentrated in Japan and to some extent Korea. In the US, Bank One manages $150 billion of assets, all sourced from the US. Asia is its first major foray abroad in money management.

Rubens is moving to Tokyo in mid-July. A US citizen, he is a fluent Japanese speaker, having worked there in the early 1990s as a marketer for Alliance Asset Management then at Salomon Smith Barney Asset Management, before it was incorporated into Citigroup.

This will be the second time he has left Alliance. The Taiwan business he oversees is actually a joint venture between FarEastern Group and New Alliance Asset Management. New Alliance is itself a JV in Hong Kong between Alliance and local developer Sun Hung Kai. New Alliance CEO Peter Henricks is conducting an internal search to replace Rubens in Taipei.