Fitch Ratings, the international ratings agency, has announced the appointment of Gilbert Ong as an associate director in Hong Kong. Ong will be responsible for covering the Asia ex-Japan structured finance market.

Ong's hiring will contribute to Fitch's expansion of its Asian operations and services, stressed Kim Slawek, group managing director and head of European and Asian structured finance. "The non-Japan Asian structured finance markets continue to grow at a healthy pace in 2004," says Slawek. "Ong brings with him an additional skill set, which will allow Fitch to continue to expand its presence and product offering and continue to be the leading provider to structured finance ratings in non-Japan Asia."

Fitch predicts that 2004 will be a booming year for structured finance markets in Asia. "It already appears as though 2004 will be a record year for non-Japan Asia structured finance issuance," says Ben McCarthy, senior director and head of Asia-Pacific international structured finance. "We are very pleased with the addition of Ong to our team and believe we are now well resourced to handle the increased volumes expected this year."

Ong joins Fitch from OCBC asset management Singapore where he worked as assistant fund manager in the CDO Group. The native Singaporean has four years of investment research experience, two of which he spent exclusively dealing with CDOs. Ong is also a chartered financial analyst.