Japan’s Diam Asset Management is expanding into fund distribution in Asia and has moved a senior executive to Hong Kong to spearhead the push.

The asset manager will now look for distribution deals with private banks and local fund houses as part of its Asia diversification drive. Until now, Diam has relied on institutional discretionary accounts.

Meanwhile Diam has relocated its Asia equity investment team to Singapore, and plans to increase its resources with an eye on hiring a fixed income specialist.

Diam has appointed Shin Yamaguchi as vice-president of marketing and client services, based in Hong Kong. Yamaguchi relocated to the city from Tokyo, where he was a manager at the global marketing team supporting the Hong Kong office, in April. He reports to head of global marketing Toru Yoshibe.

Yamaguchi will work with Diam’s Hong Kong managing director Akinori Han to market the firm’s Asia and Japan equities capability to institutional investors and intermediaries in Hong Kong and China, comprising private banks and local fund houses. This is part of the firm’s new “Asia Refocused Strategy”.

Diam’s Singapore office has its own team to grow its institutional and fund distribution business in Southeast Asia.

"We have started contacting private banks as we want to diversify our business outside of institutional clients,” said Yamaguchi. The firm is focusing on marketing its Asian and Japanese equity, both passive and active, products because these have the most competitive performance track record.

Yamaguchi told AsianInvestor the firm would also like to partner with local fund houses to help distribute Diam’s funds to the Hong Kong and China retail markets. In return, Diam can market the local managers’ products in Japan.

Meanwhile, Diam has also relocated its investment team in Hong Kong, which manages Hong Kong and China equities, to Singapore to achieve a centralised organisational structure. The team, headed by Toshihiko Takamoto, covers all Asian equities except Japan and Korea, which are managed out of the Japan office.

There is a plan to add resources to the investment team, which may include a fixed income specialist, and to the marketing team as business grows.

Diam is a 50-50 joint venture between Mizuho Financial Group, one of Japan’s largest, and Dai-ichi Life Insurance. Mizuho also owns two other asset management firms - Shinko Asset Management Co and Mizuho Asset Management Co – which Reuters has reported will be merged. Media reports suggested that Diam, which has offshore offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, London and New York, was set to remain independent for now.

Diam had $142 billion in global assets under management as of December 31 last year (2013: $126.5 billion), and its Asia-Pacific AUM was the same. It ranked No 11 in AsianInvestor's league table of the top 100 asset managers in 2014 in Asia Pacific in terms of AUM, up from No 13 in 2013.