Alan Harden, a fund-management executive with long experience in Asia-Pacific, has been named CEO at ING Investment Management in the region, filling the role previously held by Chris Ryan.

The firm has evidently decided to hire externally. Eddy Belmans, responsible for ING IMÆs North Asia business, had been serving as interim CEO. HardenÆs arrival will fill the firmÆs top regional vacancy, following RyanÆs departure for Fidelity Investments in January.

However a new, somewhat smaller hole has punctured the ING team, with Carlo Venes leaving. Venes was regional head of institutional sales and development for Asia-Pacific; Ryan has evidently poached him for a leading business development role at Fidelity.

Fidelity officials confirmed VenesÆ hire, but Venes was on gardening leave and Ryan was on holiday this week, and Fidelity officials did not return requests for details on VenesÆ new role.

This is the second major ING IM executive to follow in RyanÆs wake, after the departure of Zhan Long, who had played a senior role at ING IMÆs Shenzhen-based joint venture, China Merchants Fund Management. Zhan is now heading up FidelityÆs China strategy. Headhunters in Hong Kong say Fidelity has also recruited a number of lower-ranking people from the ING organisation since Ryan joined. Venes had been with the ING group since 1994.

Staffing will likely be a core issue for Harden to address upon assuming his new role in the fourth quarter. Based in Hong Kong, he will report to Hans van der Noordaa, a member of ING GroupÆs executive board and chairman of its Asia-Pacific insurance business.

HardenÆs additional roles include serving on ING IMÆs global management board and becoming a member of ING GroupÆs management council.

He has spent the past five years working out of London as CEO of Alliance Trust, a London-listed investment company. He joined Alliance Trust along with Anthony Muh, who continues to serve as Hong Kong-based CIO there. Both came from Citigroup Asset Management; Harden had run its Asia-Pacific business from Tokyo from 2000 to 2003. (Both left three years before Citigroup Asset Management was sold to Legg Mason.)

Harden began his career in the Middle East, working at Wardley (now HSBC Asset Management) in Dubai from 1985 to 1988, and then transferring with that firm to Hong Kong. In 1990 he joined Scimitar Investment Management and was soon named CEO. This was divested from owner Standard Chartered Bank, and he opted to stay with StanChart, working as global head of investment services in Singapore and establishing the bankÆs funds distribution platform.