US-based asset manager BlackRock is hunting for a new head of its iShares business in the region after reassigning Nick Good to a newly created role as head of strategy and business development for Asia-Pacific.

The change materialised over the past two weeks, AsianInvestor understands. Good is now tasked with leading the firm’s process of evaluating investment and growth opportunities in the region to maximise returns from the decisions it makes, a spokeswoman says.

He continues to be based in Hong Kong and will remain Asia-Pacific head of iShares – the exchange-traded funds arm that formed part of its 2009 acquisition of Barclays Global Investors – until a successor can be found.

Just last year AsianInvestor broke the news that BlackRock was building a corporate strategy team in Asia led by Terence Jen, previously the firm’s head of corporate strategy for Japan.

Jen now reports directly to Good, whereas before he had reported to the firm’s Asia-Pacific chairman, which since the start of this year has been Mark McCombe but was previously Rohit Bhagat, who stepped down at the end of last year.

Asked about the rationale for this change, the spokeswoman says: “Nick’s leadership of the successful regional build of iShares means he is well placed to leverage both his knowledge of the market and the firm to help deliver results across the spectrum of our business.

“As head of the corporate strategy team, Nick will work closely with Mark McCombe and the Asia-Pacific executive committee to define and execute BlackRock’s strategic agenda across the region and provide a seamless link into the global strategy team.

“BlackRock has significant growth ambitions for Asia-Pacific, hence the appointment of a senior business leader to this role.”

However, the spokeswoman distanced the firm from any suggestion that it would not be placing as much emphasis on the development of its iShares business in future. “We are committed to remaining the leading ETF player across the Asia-Pacific region and to growing our franchise.”

She adds that a formal search process is underway to identify Good’s successor, including internal and external candidates.

Among the most senior recent hires BlackRock has made for its iShares business in Asia-Pacific, it appointed Sandra Lee from Morgan Stanley Investment Management as its Asia-Pacific head of sales based in Hong Kong in November 2010; and it hired Albert Yeh from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch as regional COO last August.

McCombe tells AsianInvestor that Good has been reassigned to help drive the firm’s growth agenda in Asia-Pacific, for which he says he has high aspirations.

“We are in a strong position given the unique capabilities BlackRock has, combined with a broad footprint in key developed and emerging markets in the region.

“Nick has a proven record and experience as head of our Asia-Pacific iShares business which means he is well placed to leverage both his knowledge of the market and the firm to help deliver results across our business.”