First State Investments has made several senior appointments in Asia -- including the re-hiring of two former employees -- with a view to boosting its institutional business; and it has more hires planned.
Alexis Ng becomes managing director of Southeast Asia, succeeding Lindsay Mann, who last year returned to his native Australia with his family. Once Ng has started on April 28, she will hire a replacement for Edmund Teo, who was Singapore head of retail distribution before he left to join Russell Investments on April 1.
Carol Lin started last week as Hong Kong-based sales director for Taiwan, a newly created role that marks First State's first dedicated sales resource for that market. The firm does not have an onshore office in the country, but operates through a master agent, Yuanta Securities in Taipei.
"We're very happy with this set-up at present," says Michael Stapleton, Hong Kong-based regional managing director for Asia and Japan. "We're in the very early stages of the relationship and launching funds in Taiwan." Stapleton relocated from London last year following Mann's departure.
Ng and Lin both join from Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM). Ng spent nearly six years at MSIM and was responsible for institutional business development across Southeast Asia, South Korea and Taiwan. She was a member of the team responsible for winning Morgan Stanley's strategic-partnership mandate with Korea's National Pension Service.
Ng also previously worked for First State in Singapore as head of wholesale business development and will rejoin the company in May to oversee First State Investments in the city state and run business development across Southeast Asia.
During Lin's four years at MSIM, she was responsible for business development efforts in Taiwan. Before that, she spent six years at Baring Asset Management, responsible for institutional business development in Taiwan.
Sabrina Leung joins on April 13 in another newly created post, as regional marketing and communications director. In the past, First State has taken a country-based approach to marketing and communications, says Stapleton. Those teams will remain in place, but Leung will take a more regional approach and broaden the marketing and communications efforts beyond Hong Kong and Singapore.
She joins from BlackRock in Hong Kong, where she spent three years and was responsible for marketing and communications in Hong Kong.
Ng, Lin and Leung all report to Stapleton.
In addition, Eric Kwan was named in March as a board director of First State Cinda Fund Management, First State's China joint venture. Stapleton holds the other of the two board positions.
Hong Kong-based Kwan has an established relationship with First State through his role on the advisory board for the First State European Diversified Infrastructure Fund and 10 years' experience working for Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Group. He has substantial experience in establishing Sino-foreign infrastructure JVs.
Finally, Eco Tang will start in June as senior product manager for Asia, in a newly created role overseeing product management and development across the region. She will report to Chris Turpin, First State's London-based head of product.
Tang will initially be based in Sydney before relocating to Hong Kong. She previously worked for First State Investments in Hong Kong, where she undertook project management, including the initial setting up of First State Cinda Fund Management and First State Investments Indonesia.
One of First State's key initiatives over the next 12 months is to deepen its penetration of institutional markets in Asia by adding business development staff in Hong Kong and Singapore, says Stapleton. The business in Asia is roughly 60% wholesale to 40% institutional, "but over time you should expect to see institutional business grow to be larger than the wholesale business", he says.
The company is also planning to add senior analysts and portfolio managers to its investment teams in Hong Kong and Singapore in the next few months. "We're looking to increase our presence in our established markets of Hong Kong and Singapore, and push into new markets where our presence is currently limited, including China, Korea and Taiwan," says Stapleton.
First State Investments is the ex-Australia part of Colonial First State Global Asset Management, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. First State has around $18 billion in assets under management in Asia including Japan, and 120 staff in the region, with offices in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore.