BBVA Asset Management seeks Asia executive

The Spanish bank’s funds arm seeks to bring its Latin America expertise to Asian wholesalers and institutions.

The $200 billion BBVA Asset Management wants to hire a regional head of sales in Hong Kong to drive a nascent business of selling its Latin America investment expertise to Asian clients.

The firm has just hired Julian Ide as head of its institutional business in Madrid. Ide was previously a London-based business executive at the part of Credit Suisse Asset Management that was sold to Aberdeen Asset Management in 2009.

This is a new role for BBVA AM, which historically has sold 100% of its funds via its bank branches in Spain, southern Europe and Latin America.

It is now expanding this business to selling to third-party wholesalers and asset owners, and Ide says Asia should make up 50% of the group’s institutional assets under management within five years.

He says Asian interest in Latin America is on the rise, thanks to LatAm’s attractive demographics, diverse sector base, high levels of economic growth and fiscal stability.

BBVA is not a stranger to Asia. It has signed a memorandum of understanding with Citic to advise on pensions provision, using its experience from Chile and other South American countries. BBVA also owns a 15% stake in Citic Bank and 20% in Citic International Bank (Hong Kong). It also distributes a Greater China equity fund managed by Citic Capital through its Spanish branch network.

Ide says the move into the institutional space is also forcing BBVA’s portfolio managers and marketing teams into a cultural change, in which they must meet the tough standards of third-party clients in terms of service, reporting and performance.

The firm has hired two salespeople, one in Singapore and one in Seoul, who are moving to Hong Kong. It seeks a regional business head who will report to Ide, to drive sales to institutions and wholesalers, as well as manage the office. For now client service remains in Madrid, but BBVA AM could move some of those functions to Hong Kong if the business warrants.

Around 85% of BBVA AM’s assets under management are in developed-market fixed income, with the remainder in Latin American equities and bonds.

Separately, BBVA and Bank of Baroda have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a joint-venture to offer credit cards in India. The deal, if approved, will allow BBVA to acquire a 51% stake in the existing credit card unit of Bank of Baroda - Bobcards - for €34 million ($45 million).

The venture represents BBVA's first entry into India's retail banking market. Bobcards is aiming to become a leading credit card player in India and plans to issue more than five million credit cards in the next eight years.

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