ING Real Estate Investment Management has created a new role of Asia CIO in Singapore in order to provide cohesive oversight of its growing regional teams, says Robert Lie, Hong Kong-based CEO.

It has hired Peter Wittendorp for the role. He will report to Lie and although the move is effective now, it will be about two months before he has settled permanently in Singapore.

With $75 billion of assets globally, ING says it is the world's biggest investor in physical real estate. It manages $1.5 billion in Asia and Japan, and these assets are rising quickly. Lie says the firm is also building an investor base in Asia.

The firm decided to create the CIO role to help manage this growth, says Lie. Previously the on-the-ground investment teams in eight markets reported directly to him - too much responsibility for one person, given his other responsibilities running the business, and the growing pool of capital the firm must invest. "We needed someone to oversee the acquisition team and process," Lie says.

In addition the firm has begun setting up a ninth regional team in Japan, where it is in the process of recruiting a unit leader to be based in Tokyo. Lie says ING REIM will hire more people under Wittendorp, particularly to beef up teams in China, Korea and Japan.

Wittendorp, a Dutchman, is moving from Europe, where he had previously served as senior vice president and head of fund operations at ProLogis, the world's largest logistics real estate company, according to Lie. Wittendorp also has an asset management background, having served as executive VP and head of Europe and Asia at the investment arm of ABP, the Dutch civil servants' pension fund. He has also run a global real estate portfolio for another Dutch investor, PVF Pension.