GE Asset Management, a $197 billion firm based in Stamford, Connecticut, has opened an office in Singapore and transferred a senior marketing executive there. This is not GE AMÆs first office in Asia Pacific û it also has a presence in Shanghai and Tokyo û but this is the first time the firm has put business development people on the ground here.

The firm originated as the in-house manager for General ElectricÆs pension trust and later, in 1988, branched out into third-party institutional and retail funds management. The GE pension fund now accounts for 29%, or $58 billion, of its AUM. Third-party clients account for 51%, or $100 billion, while it manages $25 billion (13%) for GE Insurance and the remaining 7% for GE employees.

Of its third-party business, $72 billion is managing general insurance accounts, $18 billion is for separate or commingled institutional accounts and $10 billion represents mutual funds.

ôWe have a strong alignment of interest with pension clients,ö says Jack Boyce, executive vice president for institutional investments in Stamford. ôWe manage their money just as we do for our own pension trust. ôWe also have a lot of expertise in understanding the unique liabilities of insurance companies.ö He says the firmÆs investment expertise is in non-US equities, US equities and global fixed income.

The firm has been building a presence in Canada and Europe, and over the past 18-24 months has turned its attention to Asia Pacific. It has had a rep office in Tokyo for more than 10 years, and a three-year old research operation in Shanghai. These posts involve company research for the investment team.

Now the firm is transferring Eric Neustadt as managing director to run the unit in Singapore as a branch office. NeustadtÆs mission is to grow the business. He comes from the firmÆs consultant relations team in the US. In addition to Neustadt, the firm now has five analysts and one portfolio manager among the three locations.

Boyce says the focus now is institutional clients, mainly pension funds (corporate or state) and insurance companies. He says building onshore businesses in Asia is a longer-term objective. The firm already has institutional clients in Asia Pacific, although Boyce declined to quantify how much business the firm receives from the region, or how it will measure the success of its drive to develop business here.