Swiss firm Julius Baer yesterday appointed David Lim, head of private banking for Southeast Asia, to the additional role of chief executive for Singapore. He replaces Thomas Meier, who remains in the Lion City as CEO for Asia and the Middle East.

Markus Kobler, chief operating officer for Asia and the Middle East, will support Lim in a new additional role as deputy CEO for Singapore.

Having joined Julius Baer in 2005 as CEO for Asia and the Middle East, Meier relocated from Zurich to the Lion City as Singapore CEO in July 2009 alongside his other roles. “[The change in responsibilities] is a natural progression, and is not part of any wider structural change,” says Meier.

A Singapore-based recruiter says Julius Baer probably made the appointment to allow Meier to focus on strategic development, leaving Lim to a more hands-on role – a suggestion the bank does not refute.

Later this year, Julius Baer will move into a new office in Asia Square, one of the new towers in the Marina Bay Financial Centre area. “It’s a big commitment,” says the recruiter, “so [Meier] has probably got a lot on his plate.”

Julius Baer outgrew its previous office on George Street and took additional office space in the HarbourFront area for its back-office staff. Now the firm is consolidating in one place. The bank signed an eight-year lease in October with private equity real estate firm MGPA for 71,000 square feet of office space in the new building.

Singapore is the firm’s largest office outside Switzerland and the regional office for its products and operations platforms for Asia and the Middle East, as well as the marketing hub for Southeast Asia. Julius Baer was awarded a wholesale banking licence by the Monetary Authority of Singapore in 2007.

The firm also received a Hong Kong banking licence late last year and plans to set up a Singapore trust company and Shanghai representative office this year.

Lim and Meier’s reshuffle comes after Olivier Meystre’s recent move from Cairo to Geneva to run the Middle Eastern region in his role as CEO for the Middle East, reporting to Meier. Wael Hamroush has taken up the role of CEO of the Cairo office, reporting to Meystre.

Julius Baer now employs more than 500 people in Asia and the Middle East. Its total client assets amounted to SFr271 billion ($278 billion) at the end of October, with assets under management accounting for SFr175 billion.