After a spate of hiring last year - which started just as SARS was abating - ABN AMRO's broking head, Alastair Barr is at it again, this time in Singapore.

Anton Kwang has been hired as Singapore property analyst, while George Koh, joins from Morley Fund Management to be Singapore banks analyst - he was formerly a number three rated Singapore banks analyst at CLSA. Meanwhile Kevin Chong, who joins from CSFB will cover the Singapore consumer sector. He is part of a two person team developing a Singapore / Malaysia mid-cap product.

Separately, ABN also announced that Andrew Tan has been promoted to regional transport head of research.

Barr hopping

Barr arrived from Australia last Spring, where he had built a successful Aussie broking operation. The Scot's mandate was to turnaround the Asian operation, which had declined from the Hoare Govett days into something of a mess. Barr, who as one staffer put it, "came in with a machine gun and immediately began using it," first culled underperforming staff and used the opportunity of SARS-related job uncertainties to hire and upgrade his team from higher ranked firms. By the second half, with volumes up massively, the wisdom of rebuilding the Asian team looked sure.

Barr is hoping to take ABN from an eighth place ranking to top five.

More hires from Barr are expected to be announced later in the week.