Dutch firm ING Investment Management has hired a new Singapore chief executive, amid lingering uncertainty over the future of its parent group’s remaining funds and insurance businesses in Asia.
Shek Chee Seng, who will also act as head of the client group for Asia ex-Japan, moves from Malaysian firm CIMB Securities, where he was vice president for retail dealing in Singapore.
Shek has held other CEO posts, including stints at Reliance Asset Management in Singapore, Citic-Prudential Fund Management in China, HSBC Asset Management (Singapore) and ABN Amro Asset Management (Singapore).
The failure of ING Group to sell its Asian investment and insurance franchises as a whole last year forced it, in some cases, to divest businesses country by country, including splitting the insurance and investment operations. The mass sale was triggered by the group having to repay its €10 billion ($13.3 billion) bailout from the Dutch government during the 2008 financial crisis.
ING is preparing its European insurance and investment businesses for an IPO to be ready to go to market in 2014, says a company spokeswoman. The Singapore investment unit – along with the Japan IM – are part of the European IM organisation structure. The group has no insurance business in Singapore.
The Hong Kong IM operation is not slated to be part of the IPO and is expected to be wound down over time.
“The process for the [divestment] of the remaining businesses in Asia is ongoing, and any further announcements will be made if and when appropriate," adds the spokeswoman. The units still to be divested are the Japanese and Korean life businesses, and the Indian and Taiwanese investment arms.
The most recent sales of ING IM businesses in Asia include that of ING IM Korea to Macquarie (which completed last month), ING Funds Thailand to Singapore’s UOB in May and its Malaysian joint-venture in April.
Shek replaces Steven Billiet, who is leaving to pursue a career outside ING, says the firm. CIMB Securities did not respond by press time as to whether a replacement for Shek has been or would be appointed.
Billiet joined ING IM Singapore in October 2011. Before that, he was CEO for the fund house’s Australia division from February 2010. He has been with ING Group since 1994 in wealth management across areas including product management and sales, financial services, financial planning, private banking and asset management.
Shek's hire follows the June appointment of Stan Beckers as CEO of ING IM International based in Amsterdam to replace Gilbert Van Hassel, who has decided to leave ING.