After 16 years with Merrill Lynch, Brent Robinson has decided to move to ING. Robinson was deputy head of Asian research at Merrill in Hong Kong and he will assume the same title at ING, also in Hong Kong.

At ING he will be rejoining his old colleague Adrian Faure who joined the bank earlier this summer as head of research for Asia. Robinson's responsibilities in his new position will be for the overall packaging, marketing and promotion of the Asian research product. He will not be covering any stocks directly.

He will be taking responsibility for ING's new Investment Review Committee. This committee will be responsible for assessing any changes to recommendations and coverage in the Asian research department. Also on the new committee will be Faure, Marcus Rosgen - ING's head of Asian strategy, and the relevant country head and sector head for the stock(s) being reviewed.

The move is the latest in a string of hires that ING has made in the Asian equity businss in the last six months. Insiders at the European bank claim that they have a distinct advantage in the present market conditions by not having any US research product or investment banking exposure. This reduces the risk of ING falling under the wrathful gaze of Eliot Spitzer and being prey to the litigious greed of the class action law suits that are bedevilling most other firms.

Moreover, the bank claims to be perceived as much more independent in its approach to research than many other houses on the street. Sources at ING claim that Asian equity brokergae figures have been rising markedly over recent months in response to its revamped approach to research.