Citi has hired former Fidelity Asia-Pacific chief Chris Ryan as Hong Kong-based managing director and senior adviser to its investor services division, which is part of the bank's global transaction services (GTS) business.

The move may surprise many in the industry and is an indication of how important this part of the group's business has become for Citi. It is hoped Ryan will help develop new products and services targeted at asset managers in the newly created role.

He will report to David Russell, Asia region head of securities and funds services (SFS), and ultimately to Anthony Nappi, Asia-Pacific regional head of GTS, who are both based in Hong Kong. Additionally, Ryan will form part of the SFS management team and work alongside Harle Mossman, head of investor client sales management, and investor services head Larry Komo.

Russell this week outlined plans to add about 100 new staff throughout Asia across the front and back offices in SFS. The division currently employs around 1,000 staff and has a presence in 18 countries.

SFS classifies clients into three types: investors, intermediaries and issuers. Ryan will help grow the business on the investor side, focusing on a business strategy to provide new products and services for asset managers and other investors.

Citi's GTS unit has grown substantially in the past three years. Last year, GTS Asia reported $2.5 billion in revenue and $1.2 billion in net income, up from $1.7 billion in revenue and $611 million in net income earned in 2006.

"Ryan's hire is reflective of the growing importance of our business," says Russell.

Ryan resigned in October from Fidelity International, where he was chief executive and managing director for Asia. In that role he was responsible for Fidelity's international business in the region, ex-Japan. Prior to joining Fidelity in 2008, he worked at ING Investment Management, where he was chief executive for Asia-Pacific.

Ryan was unavailable to comment.