Guernsey-based asset manager E.I. Sturdza has applied for regulatory approval to carry out marketing activities in Hong Kong as a first step towards establishing a subsidiary office in the city, AsianInvestor understands.

The privately held asset management business of Geneva-based Banque Baring Brothers Sturdza has applied for a type-1 securities dealing licence with the Securities & Futures Commission (SFC).

It is renovating its city premises in what it hopes will be a concerted Asia-Pacific expansion drive.

By SFC regulation, a corporation that applies for a type-1 licence needs at least two responsible officers to supervise. Accordingly E.I. Sturdza has just hired Jacqueline Mak from Northern Trust to work alongside Richard McGillivray, who has been stationed in the city for the past two years.

E.I. Sturdza manages a number of open-ended fund of funds and single manager funds for institutions, high-net-worth individuals and family offices. It has 40 to 50 staff globally.

Among its suite of products is the Strategic China Panda Fund, a long-only Chinese equity strategy that it launched in the eye of the global financial storm in October 2008.

It also manages three Japan funds, and Japan is believed to have been a potential option as a base of operations, although Hong Kong was eventually viewed as a more suitable regional hub.

E.I. Sturdza pairs risk management functions to regional and sectoral boutique portfolio managers that it partners with on its fund products.

Mak started in late September. Pending approvals, she will be responsible for developing the distribution strategy for E.I. Sturdza’s funds initially, prior to applying for office status and starting an on-the-ground build-out in earnest.

At Northern Trust, Mak worked as a relationship manager on the institutional side of its asset management business in Hong Kong. She has been based in the city for four years, and prior to that spent six years with Northern Trust in Chicago.

A spokesman for Northern Trust confirmed only that Mak had left.