As Malaysia gears up for a new wave of real estate investment trusts (Reits), CIMB has named a CEO and CIO to run its Reit JV with Mapletree of Singapore. Raja Noorma Othman started yesterday as CEO of CIMB Mapletree Management (CMM), while Tham Kuo Wei has been appointed CIO and will start as soon as regulatory approvals have been granted.

Raja Noorma joins the venture from JPMorgan in Malaysia where she was a VP in investment banking. She had been with the firm for five years with stints in Singapore and Hong Kong prior to returning to Malaysia in 2003. Before JPMorgan she was a corporate finance executive at Telekom Malaysia for 10 years.

Tham is joining the JV from the Mapletree side of the business and has worked at the PSA carve out since June 2002 as a senior VP in the asset management division. Prior to 2002 he was at PSA for nine years.

The JV will see CMM try to establish a leading position in Malaysia's young Reit market. Mapletree is the vehicle formed by the carve out of PSA property assets in 2002 and is widely seen as a potential Reit listing candidate in Singapore. It set up the JV with CIMB - Malaysia's leading investment bank - earlier this year to tap opportunities in Malaysia.

Analysts say that due to the fragmented ownership of Malaysia's real estate market, it will be important for management firms to get an early listing and use the markets to start acquiring properties and build scale.