BlackRock names new transition management head

Another regional transition management boss moves on amid what some say is a quiet market for changes to portfolios.
BlackRock names new transition management head

David Gagnon has left his role as Asia-Pacific head of transition management and product development at BlackRock and has been replaced by his deputy, Anthony Swift.

Gagnon stepped down as managing director in January and will be on garden leave until late this month. AsianInvestor could not ascertain his future destination.

Swift now runs the regional business as a director reporting to Marc Desmidt, chief operating officer of the portfolio management group for Asia-Pacific. Desmidt also now heads the US fund manager's product development function, leading teams across Asia ex-Australia and Japan.

Gagnon helped set up both the TM and product development functions in the region. Insiders say the product development function was then to be integrated into the portfolio management group, hence Desmidt recently taking on the additional role.

BlackRock declined to comment on Gagnon's departure.

He had been with the firm since it acquired Barclays Global Investors (BGI), joining the TM team at BGI in February 2009. Prior to that, he had worked in the TM units of Nomura and Lehman Brothers, before the latter’s Asia business was acquired by the Japanese bank in September 2008.

Swift has worked on the BlackRock TM team since December 2009. He had previously spent a decade at BGI, the bulk of which was working on transitions. He also worked from 1997 to 1999 at Tilney Investment Management, now Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management’s UK business.

Given current low yields and volatile markets, execution is crucial to avoid loss of basis points, says Swift. "As transition management is an execution service, we're seeing strong demand for our transition business from our institutional clients," he notes, adding that TM is central to its client offering.

Gagnon’s exit is not the only recent senior TM departure in the region. As reported last month by AsianInvestor, Richard Surrency has left his post in Singapore as Asia-Pacific head of TM at Morgan Stanley. He had reported to Zach Tuckwell, Asia-Pacific head of electronic trading based in Hong Kong, who now oversees the regional TM business.

Global markets have this year proved tough for some transition managers, whose business relies on helping institutional investors make changes to their portfolios.

“So far 2012 has been pretty quiet in the TM space, as asset owners in the region wait for volatility to subside and the market to develop some sort of direction,” says Tom Wyse, Asia-Pacific head of TM at Credit Suisse in Sydney.

“Without a meaningful resolution to the European situation," he adds, "I don’t see this changing anytime soon.”

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