Continuing its Asian hiring spree, US asset manager BlackRock has created a new regional management post for its iShares exchange-traded funds business.

Albert Yeh, who was previously Asia chief operating officer for equities at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoA Merrill), will assume his role as iShares' regional COO in August. He is on gardening leave, having left the bank on April 29, and will remain in Hong Kong for the new post.

BoA Merrill has not yet decided on a replacement, but will make an announcement in due course, says Hong Kong spokesman Mark Tsang.

Yeh will help his boss-to-be – Nick Good, Asia-Pacific chief executive of iShares – to manage and expand the ETF business in Asia. BlackRock will also transfer a couple of colleagues to work under Yeh and help him build a team, for which it will make further hires in the market.

The COO role covers a mix of strategy development and execution; management of the core business processes in partnership with functional owners; and oversight of operational infrastructure for iShares in Asia-Pacific.

BlackRock has in place COOs and business managers supporting the heads of other client businesses with responsibilities similar to Yeh’s. But it is being particularly aggressive in its efforts to expand its iShares arm in Asia, and scored a coup with the hire of Sandra Lee from Morgan Stanley Investment Management late last year to run regional sales for the ETF unit.

iShares is the second biggest ETF provider in the Asia region (after State Street Global Advisors) with $10.6 billion in assets under management, and the biggest provider globally with $636.9 billion in AUM worldwide.

BlackRock’s institutional business is also one of the largest in the region, although it does not break down its AUM by category regionally. The firm had $3.65 trillion in AUM globally and $400 billion in Asia-Pacific as of March 31.

Yeh joined Merrill Lynch 11 years ago and spent time as chief administrative officer of the global institutional sales teams for fixed income and equities in New York and COO for fixed income, currencies and commodities in Tokyo, among other roles. He moved to Hong Kong to assume his most recent post in 2008.

Before joining Merrill Lynch, he was a principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York. He started his career at JP Morgan in fixed-income sales and trading, in roles across New York, Chicago and Mexico City.