Impax Asset Management, a £2 billion ($3.1 billion) boutique investment manager specialising in environmentally sustainable companies, has placed an analyst on the ground in Hong Kong and is likely to add another in 2011.

Ian Simm, London-based CEO, says the firm now runs global and Asia-focused funds that invest both in listed equities and private companies, as well as a new European private-equity vehicle.

BNP Paribas Investment Partners acquired a 28% stake in Impax in 2007 and handles its distribution and marketing in Asia.

Impax also has a relationship with Hong Kong-based family office Ajia Partners, and the analyst is a joint hire between them. The Hong Kong office was recently incorporated.

“The Hong Kong office is to give us a research base in the region,” says Simm. “European investors think we need a regional link.”

The office leads research on 450 companies in Asia-Pacific that Impax has identified as active in environmental markets. It has invested in Asia-listed equities and Indian private equity since 1999.

Although Impax’s clients are primarily UK institutions, it has a tie-up with Japan’s Diam, which owns 5% of Impax and sells an Impax strategy focused on Japan. Impax also runs another product for Russell Investments in Japan that is sold via Daiwa Securities.