Lehman Brothers Investment Management has begun a push into Asia following a rapid debut and expansion in the United States and Europe. Lehman founded its investment management division only in 2002 out of its existing private client, private equity and fund-of-hedge-fund businesses, and expanded into Europe in 2004. Since 2002 it has grown assets under management globally from under $10 billion to $198 billion. It is now appointing key people to spearhead activities in Asia.

The firm has just hired Henry Choon, previously a senior marketing director at Western Asset Management in Hong Kong, to manage distribution for North Asia. This follows on the recent appointment of Ohira Ryo to run distribution for Japan. Lehman is still looking for a third distribution manager to look after Southeast Asia from Singapore. A head of international distribution, to be based in London, will coordinate these roles outside of the US.

The Asian distribution head will also report regionally into the country management structure of Lehman Brothers. The firmÆs overall strategy in Asia is under the responsibility of Tokyo-based Jesse Bhattal, CEO for Asia-Pacific and member of the executive committee.

The investment management division at Lehman is constituted of private equity, asset management (including alternative investments) and private investment management, aimed at small financial institutions and high-net worth individuals.

Lehman started to build its wealth management and investments business with the acquisition in early 2003 of the fixed-income business of Lincoln Capital Management, a boutique in Chicago. It followed suit with two more acquisitions in 2003, of Crossroads, a Dallas-based fund of private-equity funds, and of Neuberger Berman, a diversified equities manager.

These acquisitions gave it enough scale to distribute products under its own brand name and expand to Europe, where it set up operations in London and established a range of Dublin-domiciled funds.

The firm has been slotting senior people into place around the world as it builds its investments business.

In 2004, Robert Sargent was appointed managing director and head of asset management for Europe and Asia in London. In September 2005 it hired Thierry Sciard, formerly CalyonÆs head of capital markets, to oversee the growth of the European and Middle East business, a role which was expanded this year to include Asia. His remit includes growing the business organically as well as through acquisitions. The European business has grown significantly in less than a year and the firm is now expanding the Asian side.

In October 2005 it hired Eric Johnson in New York as managing director and global head of institutional asset-management sales.

And in May 2006, the bank named George Walker, formerly head of Goldman Sachs Asset ManagementÆs alternatives business, as managing director and global head of the investment management division in New York, as well as a member of the firmÆs executive committee.

The firmÆs priorities in Asia are to establish its distribution-led model in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore, build its existing private-equity and structured-product teams and add investment professionals in India. The firm continues to add to its equity, fixed-income and private-equity capabilities in Europe and will expand those to Asia.