US-based asset manager BlackRock has hired Joel Kim from ING Investment Management as its first Asia-Pacific head of fixed income to coordinate its regional offering and build its platform.

Kim quit ING IM two weeks ago and is working out his notice. He will join BlackRock in late November/early December in Singapore, the firm’s Asia ex-Japan hub for fixed income.

He was picked to lead the US asset manager’s 30-strong fixed income team across seven Asian countries “to enhance coordination for the benefit of our clients”, notes an internal memo seen by AsianInvestor.

A BlackRock spokesperson says that Kim is not replacing anyone, explaining that the business was run on a divisional basis before, with senior managers including Neeraj Seth, head of Asian credit based in Singapore, and Steve Miller, managing director of fixed income based in Australia.

All will report regionally to Kim when he comes on board, while Seth will also continue to report functionally to Rick Rieder, CIO of fixed income, fundamental portfolios and head of global credit.

Kim will report to Peter Fisher, senior managing director and head of BlackRock’s fixed income portfolio management group. He also joins the firm’s fixed income executive committee.

Kim's hire “will further enable us to drive fixed income growth opportunities in Asia-Pacific”, finds the memo. “He will lead the Asian fixed income investment teams, work to expand the business and act as the investment leader for flagship BlackRock investment offerings in the region.

“The strengthened leadership team will foster greater connectivity across the fixed income portfolio management group, while maintaining a dedicated focus on the execution of a broad and regional fixed income strategy for growth.”

BlackRock manages $1.2 trillion in fixed income assets globally, of which about 10% is managed in Asia. According to a MorningStar report in August, BlackRock had $3.6 trillion of managed assets invested in equity (48% of total AUM), fixed income (32%), multi-asset class (6%) and money-market (7%) funds.

Kim headed ING IM’s eight-strong Asian fixed income team and was responsible for its fixed income assets in Asia ex-Japan. He has been managing Asian fixed income portfolios since August 2002.

A Dutchman, he first joined ING Barings in the Netherlands in 1997 before moving to ING IM in 1998 and relocating to Singapore in 2002.

Grant Bailey, Asia-Pacific CEO for ING IM, tells AsianInvestor he “seriously regrets” Kim’s decision to leave, but adds, “This is asset management.”

He confirms that Rob Drijkoningen, ING IM’s co-head of emerging market debt and Kim’s boss, will step into Kim’s shoes in the immediate future.

“Rob and CIO Jan Straatman will give consideration to resourcing and what our next steps will be and whether we need to fill [Kim’s] shoes. We are not going to react in a knee-jerk fashion because this is a very important strategy for us.

“We will consider replacements both internally and externally. We have bench strength in our emerging markets debt team and strong strategies globally.”

ING IM has an eight-strong Asian debt team based in Singapore, part of a larger global emerging markets debt team which has €12 billion ($16.4 billion) in AUM.

Bailey confirms that the fixed income team is otherwise intact, adding: “We will work our best to assure our people that we are a good place to work and that they have a bright future.”