Gam has replaced its head of Asia Pacific as part of a reorganisation by new group head of sales Tim Rainsford, AsianInvestor can reveal. The Swiss asset manager, which is under pressure from activist investor RBR Capital and other shareholders after a challenging 2016, is looking to its refresh its strategy in the region.

Rossen Djounov, formerly London-based head of international distribution, is to oversee and put a greater focus on the region, including Australia and Japan, said Elena Logutenkova, a spokeswoman for Gam. He will relocate to Hong Kong in the coming months, pending regulatory approval.

Former Asia chief Henry Choon left earlier this month, and Paula Ip, previously Gam's regional head of distribution, moved on in November to join UBS Wealth Management.

Ip started at the Swiss private bank on May 2 as Hong Kong head of investment funds. In this newly created role, she reports to Paul Stefansson, Asia-Pacific head of portfolio specialists. UBS declined to say how Ip’s new function had been covered previously.

Gam, which manages SFr126.9 billion ($128.5 billion) but is looking to cut costs, has no plans to replace her directly. Djounov, who has been with Gam since 2008, is assuming the former duties of both Choon and Ip, said Logutenkova.

Role changes

 Rossen Djounov

As Asia-Pacific head, Djounov will take on a wider remit than Choon held, covering Australia and Japan. They are markets he had covered in his previous role, alongside central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Meanwhile, Sukandan Inthirarajah joined Gam on February 1 in the newly created role of head of institutional sales for the Middle East, based in London. He was previously Middle East chief executive at hedge fund giant Man Group, where Rainsford had been co-head of sales and marketing before joining Gam.

Rainsford, who took up his own role at Gam on January 1, is making changes to best capture growth opportunities around the world, said Logutenkova. “Tim wanted to emphasise Asia’s strategic importance to the company."

He had spent five years as Man Group's head of Asia from 2007 to 2011.

“Rossen has been doing a great job as head of international distribution activities, responsible for a variety of regions,” added Logutenkova. “The new role will allow him to focus on one region.” 

Cost pressures

However, Gam is looking to reduce headcount, having announced an operational revamp in 2015. There has been talk that the firm could be caught up in the rising tide of investment industry consolidation.

It faces pressure to overhaul its board from RBR Capital and is also in the process of looking for new, cheaper office space in London outside Mayfair and St James’s. The lease on 20 King Street reportedly comes up in 2019.

Gam has been exploring an office move in London for the past couple of years, said Logutenkova. “We have several offices in several buildings and have had a long-term desire to consolidate everyone in one office.”

“The leases for the different locations are all coming up around the same time, and we recently restarted our search [for office space].”