Asset management veteran Kevin Hardy has quit Northern Trust and is set to join BlackRock to head its Asia-Pacific index equity team, AsianInvestor can confirm.

Hardy has worked at Northern Trust for almost nine years, most recently as managing director and head of global investments for Asia-Pacific. He was also country head for Hong Kong.

He has been in that role for just under four years, his longest within the firm and an extension of what was initially intended as a two-year posting. Northern Trust operates a rotation policy but Hardy’s preference had been to stay in Asia.

However, sources indicate this was more about a pull factor for him. “It was [Hardy’s] wish to stay in Asia, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up,” says a source.

Hardy is due to leave Northern Trust by the end of September and will take up his new role with BlackRock the following month.

He comes in as a managing director based in Hong Kong and will be responsible for the regional index equity team's portfolio management activities. He replaces Jane Leung, whose appointment as head of iShares Asia-Pacific was announced in May.

The index equity team in Asia-Pacific has $62 billion in assets under management and represents just under 5% of the global index equity business, so Hardy's task will be to increase that. The team oversees $1.3 trillion in assets under management globally.

"In a world where investors are increasingly adopting a barbell investment strategy, BlackRock recognises the importance of providing exceptional indexing capabilities," Mark McCombe, BlackRock's Asia-Pacific chairman, told AsianInvestor.

"[Hardy] has deep knowledge of the indexing sector. His experience includes creating and executing a strategy to build a global equity index fund management operation."

Since Leung was appointed to iShares she has still continued with regional oversight of the index equity business in the interim, in addition to management by Amy Shioldager, global head of beta strategies based in San Francisco.

At Northern Trust Hardy had established and built a portfolio management and trading team in Hong Kong, primarily to enhance the firm’s global passive capability. AsianInvestor has reported that indexing represents 43% of Northern Trust’s AUM, and active fixed income strategies 40%.

Northern Trust received a type-9 asset management licence back in September last year.

A spokeswoman for Northern Trust confirmed Hardy would leave in September and that William Mak had been appointed interim Hong Kong country head and would lead global investments for Asia-Pacific.

Mak is Singapore country manager and head of Southeast Asia, having joined in 2010 from Bank of New York Mellon in a similar role. Mak reports to Asia-Pacific CEO Theresa Parker, and in this interim role to Wayne Bowers, asset management CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

Hardy has worked at Northern Trust since October 2003, when he joined from State Street Global Advisors as international director of transition management based in London. Within a year he had moved to Chicago as the firm’s global director of transition management.

After almost three years he was relocated back to London as its head of international business development before landing in Asia in October 2008.

Separately, AsianInvestor understands that Northern Trust soon hopes to announce a replacement for Rohan Singh as head of sales for its asset servicing business in Asia.

Singh was transferred from Singapore to Melbourne in October last year to serve as managing director for Northern Trust in Australia and New Zealand.

Northern Trust had $704.3 billion in assets under investment management globally as at June 30 this year. At the end of 2011, it had $47.8 billion in Asia-Pacific-sourced assets, by AsianInvestor numbers.