Hong Kong-based GF International Investment Management is adopting an ambitious overseas strategy, having just named a new investment head, who will help oversee its forthcoming products.

The firm, the offshore arm of Guangzhou-based GF Fund, has hired Chen Hao as chief investment officer from Hong Kong-based Value Partners and plans to offer fixed-income and an absolute-return globaly equity fund. It will target mainly private and institutional clients, rather than retail customers, but did not specify a date for launching the products.

Chen will run equity and absolute-return investments at GFI, where he reports to chief executive Tom Ding. Formerly CIO, Ding replaced Nathan Lin as CEO in January and has retained the CIO post until now, as reported.

GFI believes that by using an absolute-return, non-benchmarked approach, it can establish an edge in the city's highly competitive funds industry.

The firm was a first mover among Chinese asset managers in launching a mainland fund under the southbound leg of the mutual recognition of funds (MRF) scheme in late December. GFI is now seeking to shift away from offering new actively managed China products to retail clients, by expanding its investment capability into the global market, as reported.

It can now offer mainland equity funds managed by its parent, so it no longer need to manufacture China equity products in Hong Kong. But the firm still offers ETFs tracking Chinese equities.

At Value Partners, Chen had been a senior portfolio manager since March 2015. Prior to that, he was a senior portfolio manager at China Life Franklin Asset Management, a Hong Kong-based joint venture between insurer China Life and US fund house Franklin Templeton, from 2010 to 2015. He served at UK fund manager Baillie Gifford from 2006 to 2010, and at China Life Asset Management in Beijing from 2005 to 2006, according to his Linkedin page.

At Value Partners, Chen’s portfolios will be taken on by the firm’s other investment directors.

GF Fund was one of the top 10 fastest growing fund houses by percentage of assets sourced from clients in Asia Pacific last year. The firm saw its assets grow 78.4% to $53 billion as of last September, from $30 billion a year earlier.