It is not only hedge funds from China that are looking to establish a presence in Hong Kong for overseas growth. Korea's Growth Hill Asset Management has hired a head for the representative office it is setting up in the city, AsianInvestor has learned. 

Investment specialist Jason Oh Jaewon joined last month in Hong Kong to run the branch, which will conduct research of Asian equities for its long/short strategy, said a source familiar with the firm.

Seoul-based Growth Hill allocates most of its $350 million under management to Korean stocks and is only focused on domestic clients, added the source, but it wants to expand its investment scope internationally.

The firm does not need to acquire a licence from Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission, because it is not looking to raise money from investors in the city.

 Jason Oh Jaewon
 

Oh (pictured left) said in his LinkedIn profile that at Growth Hill he is supporting portfolios managed in Korea using quantitative methods and bottom-up research. Before that, he had been working as an Asia-focused portfolio manager for 10 years, after seven years as a sell-side analyst in Korea.

Oh was most recently head of equity investment at Hong Kong fund manager Tandem Investors, and previously spent almost five years running portfolios at Seoul-based Korea Investment Management, according to his LinkedIn page.

Growth Hill could not be immediately reached for comment by press time.

Nascent but growing fast

Korea's hedge fund industry has grown swiftly since it started some five years ago in December 2011 with total AUM of $130 million. It reportedly stood at W623 trillion (around $5.4 billion) on July 31, 2016, according to a report by Korea Herald, which cited official data.

However, hedge fund managers will face tougher measures around short selling from March 27. The Korean Stock Exchange will be able to withdraw “overheated” stocks that receive “extraordinary increases in short selling and sharp falls in prices” during a single day for a 24-hour cooling off period, read a statement by Korea’s Financial Services Commission (FSC) in November.

Still, the FSC has generally been keen to see the industry develop. In November 2012 it sought to kick-start the expansion by slashing the required AUM of asset managers eligible to set up hedge funds to W1 trillion ($881 million) from W10 trillion. It also halved the AUM requirement for securities firms to W500 billion and for investment advisory companies to W250 billion.