Blair Pickerell has finally convinced Christina Sung to return to the asset management business and run HSBC Asset Management's Taiwan unit.

Sung was Pickerell's deputy for 18 years when he launched and then headed Jardine Fleming's Taiwan funds business; she was his first local hire, in 1984, and has since become one of the industry's most senior and formidable players.

Pickerell moved to HSBC a year ago, having left JF Asset Management in 2002. He inherited a Taiwan unit that hadn't integrated properly into the regional business. HSBC acquired China Securities Investment Trust at a dear price in May, 2001, and although it hasn't lost assets, the business hasn't taken off. In part that's because it has lacked direction, as then-China Securities president Lin Yiming resigned in 2002, creating a vacuum that has only now been filled.

Former HSBC Asset Management CEO Paul Chow sought to recruit someone to the Taiwan unit, but at that point, Sung would have not been interested, as she had no relationship with HSBC and was looking to retire. In autumn 2003 she resigned from JF and took a holiday.

But Chow departed to run the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Pickerell took the reins, and he looked to Sung as his first choice to run Taiwan, according to several market sources. "Blair trusts her," says one. Indeed, the local Taiwan press has been full of conjecture about her moving to HSBC since she resigned from JF.

Sung finally agreed to return to the industry and to partner once more with Pickerell. Her role is head of HSBC Asset Management Group, Taiwan; and senior advisor, mutual funds, Asia Pacific. She starts work on April 1, responsible for overseeing strategy in Taiwan and advising the firm on developing its funds business region-wide.