ING Investment Management has named Navin Suri as CEO of its Indian operations, replacing Vineet Vohra who relocated to Singapore at the end of 2008 for personal reasons.

Suri joined ING Investment Management India in August 2008 as director for sales and distribution. He reports to Eddy Belmans, regional general manager for ING Investment Management Asia-Pacific.

Belmans notes that India is one of ING Investment Management's most important growth markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Suri's 17 years of sales and distribution management experience, plus the six months he spent in front-line sales at the fund house, make him the ideal person to push forward the fund house's initiatives in India, he says.

Prior to joining the firm last year, Navin was based in Singapore with Citi, holding several positions including regional head of sales for investment products and head of sales and distribution for retail banking. Vohra was also a Citi alumni, having previously ran Citi's Asia wealth management operations before moving to ING Investment Management in July 2007.

According to ING, Navin has worked with and influenced performance of over 3,000 sales professionals spread over 450 distribution points in 13 countries in Asia.

Navin's experience in rallying a huge sales force to produce better results is just what ING Investment Management India needs after suffering a significant drop in assets under management, due mainly to the drop in valuations owing to the global financial crisis and the weak investor sentiment locally.

The absence of a CEO and a CIO, Paras Adenwala who also left last year, had left a hole in ING Investment Management's leadership since December 2008.

Under Vohra's leadership, the firm's distribution strategy remained anchored on affiliate channels. Expanding third-party wholesale business was high on the agenda, but the firm was careful to maintain its in-house relationships. Other ING businesses in India include ING Life Insurance and ING Vysya Bank. ING Life is currently present in 234 cities across 265 branch offices with over 366 sales teams. ING Vysya Bank offers retail, private and wholesale banking services that serve over 1.5 million customers through more than 670 outlets.

ING Investment Management had also set its sights on building a larger base of retail clients, seeing tremendous potential in the repositioning of wealth in India from cash into other channels.