FundQuest has appointed Sébastien Cabanel as its first head of sales for Asia, based in Hong Kong, as it strives to establish and build a presence in the region.

The firm, which operates within BNP Paribas Investment Partners, is a specialist multi-manager/fund of fund manager, providing access to a team of 31 analysts and portfolio managers based in Boston, London and Paris. This is its first direct foray into Asia.

“My first task will be to meet institutional investors in the main developed markets [in Asia], then private banks and, as a third step, retail banks that want to have a white-label product that we could customise for them,” explains Cabanal.

Plus FundQuest will also be looking to invest in Asia-based funds. “We are a fund of funds and we invest,” he says. “We will do research on Asia-based fund managers.”

While he notes the firm will initially be focused on Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, he describes Australia as another interesting market. “The style of management that we have suits the needs of superannuation funds, which are long-term investors with an interest in asset-allocation skills.”

He adds that FundQuest will be looking to hire on the marketing and sales side as well as on the research side. “The question is where are we going to base these people? If it turns out we have more interest in certain markets, then we may adapt in terms of the profile of the people we hire.”

In his new role, Cabanal will report to Valerie Meurice, head of external business development at FundQuest.

Previously Cabanal worked as managing director for HDF Finance in Singapore where he launched operations in 2008. Prior to that he was the company’s head of international sales having joined from Société Générale Asset Management where he was a sales manager.

FundQuest has over €23 billion ($31.5 billion) in assets under management as at June 2010.