Allianz Global Investors has brought Eugen Löffler back to South Korea as Asia-Pacific chief investment officer. He started on April 1 in Seoul, where the firm has a large institutional business.

He replaces Nikhil Srinivasan, who had co-handled the role at Allianz GI for the past three years alongside his role at Allianz SE, the holding company. Srinivasan remains chief executive and CIO of Allianz IM Asia and a member of the investment management board of the Allianz group in Munich.

Frank Klausfelder was appointed head of Greater China for Allianz GI Asia-Pacific in January, having previously been CEO for Taiwan. He is now responsible for Allianz GI in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as for the qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) business.

These appointments give the firm a more robust structure allowing it to better capitalise on regional synergies, says a company spokeswoman.

Löffler reports to Douglas Eu, Asia-Pacific CEO of Allianz GI, and will be responsible for the development and implementation of the investment strategy for the region. Löffler most recently ran investments for Allianz's life and non-life insurance companies in Switzerland and headed the global equity team for Allianz IM. Before that, he had been CEO of Hana Allianz Investment Trust Management Company (now Allianz GI Korea) from 2001 to 2005.

Traditionally, regional CIOs -- both at Allianz GI and elsewhere -- have been based in Hong Kong, says Löffler, but the regional CIO should be based where he or she is closest to the greatest number of investment professionals.

In Asia-Pacific, Allianz GI's largest teams are in Korea and Taiwan. "This is partly because of the needs of our local clientele, partly because of the numbers of excellent small companies -- especially in Taiwan -- and partly because these are the two markets where, in our experience, disciplined 'bottom-up' research can add the most value," he adds.

Taking the longer-term view, it seems reasonable to expect that Northeast Asia will be more important to Allianz GI's business development than Southeast Asia or South Asia, says Löffler. While the authorities in Singapore and Malaysia, for example, have taken positive steps to develop their financial services and investment management industries, he adds, the bulk of the savings in the region are in Northeast Asia.

"Ultimately, it may be that the development of our business in mainland China requires us to deploy our largest investment team in Shanghai and/or Beijing," says Löffler (for instance, last year the firm launched a Greater China fund). "For the time being, though, Korea is the logical base." He adds that he particularly enjoyed living and working in the country for six years.

Set up in 2007, Allianz IM specialises in looking into investment opportunities for its parent, Germany's Allianz Group, and handles the investments of Allianz insurance companies worldwide. Allianz GI manages both Allianz insurance and third-party money, unlike Allianz IM, which only runs insurance investments.

Globally, net inflows at Allianz GI from clients last year rose to €91.2 billion, while operating profits increased by 51% to €1.362 billion. The firm's AUM grew by 28% to €1.178 trillion.