The head of BlackRock’s alternatives strategy group for Asia ex-Japan, Joseph Pacini, is set to leave the firm for personal reasons to relocate to the US, AsianInvestor can confirm.

Pacini is working through his notice period and his last day with the firm will be next month. He is understood to be returning home to Utah, although AsianInvestor could not establish his next move by press time.

Taking over from Pacini is Sydney-based Andrew Landman, a spokeswoman confirmed. Landman joined BlackRock in December 2012 (eight months after Pacini) as head of alternatives in Australia, as reported. Prior to that he had been CEO for Ascalon Capital, a subsidiary of BT Financial Group in Australia. His role was subsequently expanded to head of institutional client business.

He is now combining the two roles; his new title is head of institutional client business and alternatives for Asia.

BlackRock had hired Pacini from JP Morgan Private Bank (Asia) in March 2012 in a blaze of publicity in what was a newly created role to drive the firm’s alternatives business across the region. AsianInvestor selected Pacini as one of its 10 biggest people moves of 2012, as reported.

Pacini had worked with BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI) to develop alternative strategies and build out the firm’s Asian alternatives platform and product offering.

BAI had managed $115 billion in alternative assets globally as of March 31 this year. However, that is just $5 billion more than when Pacini talked effusively about plans for the business to AsianInvestor in May 2012, when Asian investors accounted for $20 billion of that sum, as reported.

Pacini had talked about institutional plans for increasing alternatives exposure amid the low interest-rate environment. “My responsibility is to make sure we are properly addressing opportunities in Asia for our global client base,” he said, “and also representing what we are seeing in global opportunities for our local Asia client base.”

Strong in hedge funds, BlackRock was not well established in the region’s private equity market, in the face of entrenched competition from the likes of Carlyle Group, KKR and TPG Capital.

In October last year, BlackRock announced it had completed the acquisition of private equity real estate investment advisory firm MGPA, which covers Asia and Europe. That doubled the firm’s global real estate AUM, which had reached $24 billion as of March 31.

The US fund house had put BAI on a fast-track for growth. BAI now boasts around 500 employees globally, up from 350 in September 2012. In Asia its staff are located throughout the region, with the main hubs in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan.

As part of the build-out in Asia, BlackRock hired Jeong Hoon Lee in January last year in the newly created role of head of the alts strategy group for North Asia. He is based in Seoul.

And in April last year, BlackRock named Andrew Stewart to co-head its alternative investment business alongside Matthew Botein, including real estate, hedge fund and private equity fund-of-funds. Botein also oversees the firm’s alternative solutions unit that develops risk analytics for clients.

This January, Pacini had told AsianInvestor how Asian institutions were starting to seek alternative investments in their home region, particularly in hedge funds and real estate.

“What we have been seeing over the last few months is a refocus – at least from the institutional investor base in Asia – back on Asia,” he said. While Asian private equity had drawn interest, “maybe not quite as much” as Asian hedge funds and real estate, he noted. Pacini also spoke about opportunities in the private lending space.

The BlackRock spokeswoman said Pacini's departure was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with business performance.