ING Investment Management has appointed Douglas Hymas as CEO of its Japan business. His role is effective April 20, but yesterday was his first day settling into the new office.

Hymas has been in Japan for 20 years in a number of areas. He is a California-licensed attorney and began his career as a compliance officer. He worked in several middle and back offices at firms including Lehman Brothers, Barclays Global Investors and Citigroup Asset Management. He got the Citi job when he was hired by its then-Japan CEO Alan Harden.

When Citigroup Asset Management was acquired by Legg Mason, Harden moved to London to run Alliance Trust. Hymas stayed on. First as a compliance director and then in product development, he had been running Citi AM's offshore fund sales department, which under Japanese regulation has to be done by a securities company. When Legg Mason took over, it was initially decided to distribute its variety of fund brands via a new, centralised securities company, which Hymas set up and ran.

Soon thereafter, however, Legg Mason switched gears. In the United States it lets its various brands sell themselves, and it wanted to replicate this in Japan, rather than use a centralised platform.

Meanwhile, Wachovia, which had made an unsuccessful attempt to acquire Legg Mason, indicated its desire to expand its activities in Japan and sought a local platform to help it distribute securities, investment products and so on. Hymas moved to Wachovia to help them set up such a platform. When Wachovia was then acquired by Wells Fargo, Hymas stayed on board, although it became clear that asset management would be a small part of Wells Fargo's activities in Japan.

Facing a reduced role there, Hymas was receptive to an overture from his old boss from Citibank AM days, Alan Harden, who last year moved to Hong Kong to become ING Investment Management's Asia-Pacific CEO. Hymas says he welcomed the opportunity to take a broad, established asset-management business and grow it. Moreover, while he is charged with growing the ING IM business, the firm has left it to Hymas and the Japan team to determine how.

The position became available because the firm is transferring Paul Van Eynde to Singapore. Van Eynde had been the previous CEO in Japan. ING IM officials won't comment on Van Eynde's new position other than to say he is leading a new initiative.