BNP Paribas Asset Management is seeking a new co-head of sales for Asia Pacific to replace Mark Speciale, who is moving on after two years with the French firm, AsianInvestor can reveal.

It is understood that he will be retiring to his native US with his wife to be closer to their family.

Speciale joined BNP Paribas AM to run institutional coverage for the region in June 2017, as first reported by AsianInvestor. He was subsequently promoted to co-head of sales alongside Christian Bucaro, the former head of wholesale distribution.

Until a replacement is hired for Speciale, his former duties will be looked after by Bucaro, Japan chief executive Toki Daisuke and Australia CEO David Grybas, a well-placed source told AsianInvestor.

Mark Speciale

Speciale is well known to asset owners in Asia after 22 years in Singapore in institutional client roles at fund firms including BNY Mellon Investment Management and Capital International. 

His stint in Asia has a symmetry to it, as he started in the region at fixed income house Fischer Francis Trees & Watts, which was fully acquired by BNP Paribas AM in 2006.

Speciale leaves an institutional sales team of around 10 people in Asia, which has grown since he joined, notably last year in terms of insurance client coverage in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea, said the unnamed source. The firm is also considering strengthening its coverage of insurance firms in Taiwan, he added.

One headhunter told AsianInvestor that Speciale “had built a good platform” at the asset manager and would be missed.

The firm has a substantial business in the region: as of September 2017, the latest date for which AsianInvestor has data, $86 billion of its $674 billion in AUM was sourced from Asia Pacific.

Meanwhile, there have been several other institutional heads appointed in Asia by asset managers recently, such as Daryl Ee at Eastspring, Abhi Shroff moving from Pimco to Dimensional Fund Advisors, Charles Zhao at State Street Global Advisors and Alison Wallis at GAM.

This story has been updated to include more detail about the expansion of the team under Speciale and about how his duties will be looked after until a replacement is named.