ING Investment Management is expected to seek a new head of Asian fixed income after it emerged that newly hired Patrick Chia will not be continuing with the firm, AsianInvestor has learned.

Chia only joined ING IM in February based in Singapore, having quit last December as Asia head of fixed income and currencies at Amundi, where he had worked for 11 years since January 2001.

Sources indicate that Chia left last Friday. When contacted by AsianInvestor, a spokeswoman for ING IM in Asia said only: “All I can confirm is that [Chia] will not be continuing with us. We wish him all the best for the future.”

However, the spokeswoman stressed that the three fixed income portfolio managers that ING IM had in place before Chia arrived were still with the firm, in a team reporting to co-head of global emerging market debt Rob Drijkoningen. In fact, she said there had been no changes in its Asian fixed income team the other than Chia’s departure.

Asked whether the firm would be seeking to appoint a new head of Asian debt, either internally or externally, or would not seek to replace him, the spokeswoman replied: “We will be looking at all our options on how best to proceed from here.”

But sourcing a replacement in Asia will be no easy task. One recruitment consultant told AsianInvestor: “The Singapore market is heavily overfished. Fixed income has been one of the most active areas in the market for the past six months on the back of greater global interest in Asian debt as an asset class, banks lending less and more issuance here in Asia.

“My guess is that ING will relocate someone else from overseas. There are a lot of good people covering Asian debt who sit elsewhere in the world and I suspect this [hiring from overseas] is set to be a trend.”

When Chia joined ING IM, AsianInvestor reported that he would be heading a 10-strong Asian fixed income team at ING IM. His departure leaves nine. His hire came after Joel Kim left ING IM to become BlackRock's first head of Asia-Pacific fixed income.

Chia had left a similar-sized team at Amundi, and could even potentially return to his old job. A spokeswoman at Amundi in Singapore confirms it is still looking to hire a senior portfolio manager in Singapore following Chia’s departure last December.

But she added that it had recently added two credit analysts in Singapore, to go with one it already has in Kuala Lumpur. It now has a fixed income team of nine, reporting to Philippe Jauer, its CIO of global fixed income and forex, based in Singapore.

That team features one credit portfolio manager looking after Asian bonds, one for Asian currencies and one for sukuk, as well as a treasuries manager and a bond trader.

In further evidence of turnover and demand for fixed income talent, earlier this week Baring Asset Management announced out of the UK that it had hired Sean Chang from HSBC Global Asset Management as its new head of Asian debt.

Effective on May 2, Chang is based in Hong Kong and reports to Alan Wilde, head of fixed income and currency, and Wilfred Sit, chief investment officer for Asia.

Chang came in to replace Thomas Kwan, who had been hired from ICBC Credit Suisse in Beijing in April last year as its first head of Asian debt, based in Hong Kong. However, his tenure was brief and he left in January for personal reasons.

Chang had previously worked at HSBC Global Asset Management (formerly Halbis Capital Management) as an investment director since 2007. Prior to that he worked in fixed income management roles at Mirae Asset Global IM, Hang Seng IM and Invesco Asia.