AsianInvestor.net will be closed for the holidays until Monday, January 4. We wish our readers happy holidays and best wishes for 2010.

To conclude the year, here are my favourite 12 stories from our site over the past 12 months. These aren't necessarily the ones that received the most visits. Nor did I focus much on the mandates, fund launches and people moves that populate our website. I've focused on stories that represent the major themes in the asset management industry in the Asia-Pacific region.

12. Aima gets feisty about EU red tape, by Simon Osborne, 9 October.
Simon has been covering global issues affecting the hedge fund world all year. He has been at the forefront of explaining to managers in our region about issues that could affect them. His most thoughtful pieces have gone into our print edition, so I picked this story as a way to represent his work.

11. Deutsche Bank launches "inverse" ETF in Asia, by Rita Raagas De Ramos, 24 February.
This was one of many stories we produced about exchange-traded funds and how both global and local providers are trying to bring innovative products to Asia. ETFs have been a big non-story, given that Asian ETFs actually experienced net outflows this year, but it's a product that could have a future in this region - which is a warning to active fund managers.

10. KIC tipped to hire American hedge fund manager, by Jame DiBiasio, 17 March.
The new sovereign wealth funds of China and Korea have taken great strides since their establishment four years ago. This story is one way of showing how they are rapidly becoming the region's most important investors in actively managed strategies, including alternative investments. And it was a scoop for us, too.

9. Hedge funds accused in prawn kidnap plot, by Simon Osborne, 5 August.
Honestly, we couldn't make this stuff up.

8. SGX/Chi-X dark pool could revolutionise Asian trading, by Jame DiBiasio, 14 August.
Dark pools have gotten a lot of headlines recently. Last week Joe Marsh reported on the backlash in Hong Kong. If these alternative crossing networks are going to make an impact in Asia's fragmented and expensive markets, it will be because of this deal.

7. The "World Series" of funds of hedge funds, by Simon Osborne, 22 June.
An original analysis of an industry in the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal demonstrated that some of these guys really do know what they're doing. Simon has a way of turning the conventional wisdom on its head.

6. Sebi to introduce variable loads for mutual funds, by Jame DiBiasio, 17 February.
To my mind, India's securities regulator is the only one in the region that puts consumers ahead of the industry. This is a risky move, announced a few months after our story, that intends to create a mutual fund distribution model based on volume and advice, not on pushing products. It's something that Chinese regulators should watch.

5. BlackRock to buy Barclays Global Investors for $13.5 billion, by Rita Raagas De Ramos, 12 June.
The most important deal of the year for asset managers everywhere. Also, while it's not an official entry here, we also looked at what the deal meant for the industry in Japan.

4. ICBC Credit Suisse goes solo on QDII investments, by Liz Mak, 25 February.
Liz set the tone early in the year with this story, which shows how far the Chinese fund industry has come, highlighting its burning ambition to become globalised. It was a warning that QDII opportunities may not be as great as they seem to foreign fund houses, and one that became more apparent later this year when the State Administration of Foreign Exchange ended a 17-month moratorium on new launches.

3. Shake-out in CSRC fund division signals new direction, by Liz Mak, 11 February.
Liz has consistently covered the changing face of the asset-management industry in China, in this and other stories, online and in print. This story analysed the new direction that Chinese regulators would take with regard to fund distribution, product development and QDII.

2. Harvest takes over DWS Greater China, Asia funds, by Jame DiBiasio, 22 July.
This was the most important piece of industry M&A in Asia, in a year of considerable deal-making among asset managers. It shows, on the one hand, how some foreign firms have struggled in the region's retail space. But the most important aspect to the deal is what it says about Harvest and its ambitions, and about the ability of Chinese financial institutions to shape their own destiny. It's too early to tell whether this deal will be a success -- let's see if the inherited DWS teams are still around by the end of 2010.

1. Wanted: Mandarin-speaking global business development execs, by Liz Mak, 9 October.
This list of stories is heavy on China's fund industry and the way its regulators and market players are developing it into a major force in the region and the world. Mainland firms have been among the few looking to make big hires in Hong Kong this year, and our coverage has shared in their enthusiasm. But here's the reality check, and an example of the analysis we try to deliver to our readers all the time.