First Asia credit head hints at Ashmore's regional aspirations

The UK asset manager has hired Kon Chee-Keat in Singapore. He came from Lion Global Investors, where he has been replaced by a former Deutsche AM veteran.
First Asia credit head hints at Ashmore's regional aspirations

Phoon Chiong-Tuck joined Singaporean firm Lion Global Investors in February as head of fixed income to replace Kon Chee-Keat, who moved to UK fund house Ashmore late last year.

Singapore-based Kon has taken what is said to be a newly created role as head of Asian credit at Ashmore, covering high-yield and investment-grade corporate bonds. He is understood to be reporting to Robin Forest, Ashmore’s London-based global head of credit.

Ashmore's hire of what is thought to be its first Asia-based portfolio manager with regional responsibility for public markets suggests further Asian expansion may be on the cards. Sources indicate it has a portfolio manager in Singapore focused on non-public markets.

Kon had been with Lion Global since 2005, before which he spent nine years as head of fixed income and foreign exchange at UOB Asset Management in Singapore.

Ashmore declined to comment on the appointment or on whether other hires are likely.

Meanwhile, Phoon reports to Simon Flood, chief investment officer at Lion Global, which had S$26.7 billion ($21.1 billion) in assets under management as at December 31.

Phoon was previously principal consultant at recruitment firm Whitestone Consulting in Singapore, where he had worked since January 2009. He has also served as an adviser on the investment committee at financial advisory firm Providend since July 2010.

He spent a large chunk of his career – from 1999 to 2008 – at Deutsche Asset Management, his latest role there being chief investment officer for Asia ex-Japan.

Ashmore’s AUM stood at $60.4 billion as at December 31, and a significant chunk (around a third as of September 30) of that is sourced from Asia-Pacific. In addition to Singapore, the firm has regional offices in Beijing, Japan, Melbourne and Mumbai.

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