Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission yesterday (Thursday) granted Credit Suisse Asset Management a license to carry out business. The move comes as Hong Kong's wholesale asset management business booms. Figures published by the SFC show that assets under management in Hong Kong increased by 23% during 2004 to a record of HK$3,618 billion ($465 billion).

Sources suggest that while CSAM has had an office in Hong Kong for a number of years, it was actually doing international business and not carrying out local work. In starting the new onshore business CSAM is looking to win new mandates from government and local institutions as well as set up new distribution channels for its products.

"The asset management business in Asia is crucial to Credit Suisse's overall regional strategy and commitment, and we're eager to strategically expand our footprint via our regional hub centered in Hong Kong," says Clayton Coplestone, a CSAM Director in Hong Kong. "We are also working towards building our asset management presence in other significant markets within the region," he added.

One of these new markets is Korea, where CSAM has opened a representative office, again to concentrate on winning more domestic assets. In May, CSAM is said to have scored a big deal with a major local entity, although the firm will not reveal its name.

The firm has also undertaken a local JV in China with ICBC concentrating on funds management. ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management officially launched on July 5th. On July 26th it launched its first equity fund and sales of this are said to have exceeded expectations.

The moves all point to a growing domestication of Asia's asset management industry, where global players are establishing themselves on the ground with local licenses and regulation to capture domestic mandates. Sources at CSAM suggest that the next two markets it is looking to address are Singapore and India.