BlackRock has announced the appointment of Philipp Hildebrand as vice-chairman in a new role to oversee the firm’s largest institutional client relationships in Asia-Pacific and Emea.
The former chairman of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), who stepped down this January over a currency trading scandal involving his wife, is to start at BlackRock in October based in London.
He will drive the development of growth plans and strategies for BlackRock's largest accounts, and will represent the firm to senior government officials and regulators across Asia-Pacific and Emea. He will also contribute his perspective on global markets and economic trends to BlackRock’s investment teams.
Mark McCombe, the firm's Asia-Pacific chairman, was unavailable for interview at press time, but via email to AsianInvestor says: “The addition of Philipp’s exceptional institutional client relationships across the globe will enable us to further strengthen and deepen our client interactions."
Asked how Hildebrand's role would impact Winnie Pun, who takes care of institutional clients for BlackRock in Asia-Pacific, a spokeswoman for the firm responds: "He will be working with people across the firm."
She adds that he will lead a small dedicated team that will likely include existing BlackRock staff as well as new hires.
Hildebrand hit the headlines last year after it emerged that his wife Kashya had bought over half a million US dollars in August 2011 just two weeks before the SNB placed a limit on the value of the Swiss franc. She sold them in October at a profit.
Unable to prove conclusively that he did not know about the trade, Hildebrand stepped down from the SNB in January, but was cleared of impropriety by Pricewaterhousecoopers and the SNB itself.
In his new role Hildebrand will report directly to Laurence Fink, BlackRock's CEO and chairman, and will join the firm's global executive committee, as well as its Emea and Asia-Pacific executive committees. In a statement, Fink praises Hildebrand for his "expertise, judgment and integrity".
Asked whether he might be relocated to Asia or Emea at some point, the BlackRock spokeswoman says London is viewed as a convenient location in terms of time-zone between the firm's US headquarters and Asia. He will, however, be travelling to the two regions frequently.
At present Hildebrand holds the position of a visiting fellow at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University, which will continue until October. His fellowship will end when he joins BlackRock full-time, although he will remain engaged with the school in an advisory capacity.
Hildebrand has 20 years' experience across asset management and banking, most recently as SNB chairman. He was a member of the SNB governing board from 2003 until he quit this year.
Prior to that he was chief executive officer for UBP in Geneva from 2001 to 2003. He also held the same role for Vontobel Group in Zurich and was a partner at Moore Capital Management, where he worked in London and New York. He began his career in 1994 at the World Economic Forum.
Since 2008 he has been a member of the Group of Thirty, a private international body composed of private and public sector representatives and academics that aims to deepen understanding of economic and financial issues and examine choices available to policymakers and practitioners.