I’m intent on acquisitions, says Nikko AM’s new chief

Charles Beazley is confirmed as the global chairman and CEO of Nikko Asset Management as Tim McCarthy retires. He affirms the company’s expansion strategy in Asia.
I’m intent on acquisitions, says Nikko AM’s new chief

Asia’s largest regional asset manager is undergoing a change of the guard, with Nikko AM announcing that Charles Beazley is taking over as global chairman and chief executive.

He succeeds Tim McCarthy in Tokyo, effective from April 1, after the latter picked the end of this fiscal year to retire and return to the US.

The firm says it is part of a long-agreed succession plan. Beazley relocated from Nikko’s London office to Tokyo in 2010 to take on the role as head of institutional and international (ex-Japan) business, having joined the firm in 2006.

A spokeswoman for Nikko AM says that Beazley will retain his current responsibilities. Asked if this was an interim measure, she replies: “We do not see any further changes in the near future.”

She adds that Charlie Metcalfe, the firm’s head of Europe, US and Middle East businesses, and Blair Pickerell, its Asia head and global chief marketing officer, will continue to report to him.

Beazley was unavailable for interview at press time, but in response to AsianInvestor queries he notes: “We will continue our expansion in Asia. This is critical to our future.

“Our proven multi-local approach is a cornerstone of our strategy. We will continue to make appropriate acquisitions in key markets as well as build out our existing platforms.”

It is a message that McCarthy stressed during an interview with AsianInvestor last October, when he indicated that establishing a foothold in Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia was on the radar.

Beazley adds that Nikko AM’s goal is to become the world’s leading Asian asset manager, and the leading manager of Asian equity and fixed income products for international clients.

McCarthy himself describes his eight years at the helm as exciting and fruitful, a time during which Nikko AM’s global AUM tripled to $153.8 billion as at the end of 2011. It declines to break out its AUM by region, and the figure has fallen from $165 billion as of last October.

Perhaps his tenure would best be described as transformative, given that the firm evolved from a local Japanese asset manager to one operating in seven Asian markets with offices in London and New York.

The route to scaling up has been acquisitive: Tyndall Investments in Australia and New Zealand and DBS Asset Management in Singapore and Hong Kong were prominent purchases. It also bought and inherited stakes in other businesses and has a number of joint-ventures in the region.

But resultant integration has not been without bloodshed, and senior departures include Deborah Ho, who had served as CEO of DBS Asset Management and later took up a role at Barclays Capital, and Michael Syn Hsien-Min, who left Nikko AM last March to join the Singapore Exchange as head of derivatives.

Eleanor Seet was subsequently appointed president and executive director of Nikko AM Asia – the rebranded DBS AM – responsible for running the business in Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Nikko AM also transferred Teck Keng Neo from its Tokyo HQ as head of middle and back office to oversee operations, fund accounting, finance, information technology, middle office and administrative functions.

As part of the DBS Asset Management purchase Nikko inherited stakes in Hwang Investment Management (its CEO is Teng Chee Wai) and Asian Islamic Investment Management, both in Malaysia. And most recently it unveiled plans to launch a JV with Ambit Holdings in India.

It also bought a 40% stake in Rongtong Fund Management in China (headed by Allen Yan), while its Australia business is led by Craig Hobart and its New Zealand operation by Peter Lynn.

The DBS acquisition also bequeathed an eight-strong corporate credit team, fuelling Nikko AM’s ambition to launch Asian and emerging market fixed income products out of Singapore.

The Nikko AM spokeswoman confirms it is still engaged in a review period to assess product capabilities post acquisition. Its head of fixed income is Koh Liang Choon, who had the same role at DBS AM, while Ng Soo Nam heads its Asia-Pacific equity team.

McCarthy previously told AsianInvestor that Nikko AM had more than 400 funds on its platform, adding that 80% of what it was doing was replicating (with tweaks) existing funds with track records and registering them in local Asian markets.

At present Nikko AM has 256 investment professionals, of which 102 are based in Japan, 126 in Asia-Pacific, 18 in New York and 10 in London. It has over 1,000 staff in total, including all subsidiaries and affiliates.

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