Bo Kratz has joined Permal as managing director for Asia in Hong Kong, following a decade-long career at ABN AMRO Asset Management.

The Asia MD position is new, encompassing the firmÆs regional businesses, including India, Australia and Japan. Until now, the Hong Kong and Singapore offices reported separately to London.

The Singapore office has been the $25 billion managerÆs biggest in the region, and has covered private banks and other clients in North Asia. Growing demand from North Asia prompted Permal to set up a Hong Kong office, which received an investment license earlier this year, and to locate the new regional MD there.

Kratz says his mandate is to expand PermalÆs distribution channels beyond private banks. It has relationships with top private banks, but wants to also grow ties with the wholesale arms of commercial banks, as well as establish direct relations with institutional investors.

The firm sources roughly one-third of its assets from Asia-Pacific and is also keen to add local managers to its stable of hedge funds. The share of hedge funds based in Asia has grown, as has global demand for Asian exposure.

Kratz says the recent market volatility, which saw many hedge funds fall in line with markets, is not evidence that hedge funds have fewer opportunities to find alpha. ôWeÆve seen corrections before and nothing has changed fundamentally,ö he says. ôItÆs always a challenge when liquidity dries up. Investors should be asking themselves if theyÆre getting what they expect from hedge funds over a period of both bull and bear markets.ö

One reason he was attracted to Permal was because of its longevity. The firm has been managing funds of hedge funds since the early 1970s. Its global CEO and CIO have each been with the firm for 20 years or more. He also wanted to join the exodus of talent from the traditional funds industry to the alternatives side.

Kratz now oversees five people in Singapore and three in Hong Kong, where heÆs looking to add client support staff.

His last position in ABN AMRO Asset Management was head of institutional sales in Hong Kong. He also served as CEO for the Singapore office and a portfolio manager at ABN AMROÆs Stockholm office. He is a native of Sweden.

Last year, the $370 billion asset manager Legg Mason acquired Permal from its parent, Sequana Capital (formerly Worms & Cie), but has left PermalÆs management and structure intact.