Privately held Swiss bank Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch has hired Pranay Gupta from ING Investment Management as CIO for Asia and global head of investment solutions.

Gupta joined the firm last week in Hong Kong and will now be responsible for beefing up its regional investment teams, mostly on the credit side to begin with.

He will report to Vincent Duhamel, who joined last March as a limited partner and head of Asia for Lombard Odier based in Hong Kong. It seems the pair has a history.

“I have known Pranay for four years now, he used to be a client when I was at Sail Advisers,” Duhamel recalls, noting that when Sail took over ING’s four fund of hedge funds in mid-2009 Gupta became an independent director of its mutual funds.

On Gupta’s hire by Lombard Odier, Duhamel explains: “An Asian CIO helps to make global products more relevant to Asian investors and to generate bottom-up alpha to our global clients. If you think about the next stage for us, it is how do we find opportunities in Asia and be able to deliver those better internationally.”

Gupta had been Asia-Pacific CIO for ING IM but quit in November last year. Coincidentally, ING IM has also seen its global CIO Jan Straatman depart to Lombard Odier to become its CIO based in London, effective from March 2012.

AsianInvestor understands ING IM is set to announce an internal replacement for Straatman, who in the meantime has been replaced by Mark Weber as acting CIO based in The Hague. Sources suggest Gupta will not be replaced.

Lombard Odier is better known for its private banking capabilities, mostly outside of the region. It has $160 billion in assets globally, of which over $7 billion is from Asian clients.

It has also just hired Simon Tam as a relationship manager and managing director in Hong Kong from UBS, where he has spent the past 18 years, most recently as head of its ultra-high-net-worth group in Hong Kong.

Duhamel indicates that he is eager to grow his team of RMs in Asia. With portfolio management capabilities in place geared towards high-net-worth individuals, he says his aim now is to focus on product-specific strategies for China, Asia long-short, credit and absolute return.

In an interview with AsianInvestor last June, Duhamel outlined his plans to hire a handful of institutional sales staff as he strives to increase penetration of the firm’s pure institutional business, which at the time accounted for about a quarter of its global AUM, or $40 billion.

And he confirms that he has since brought in six people (which he names but not for publication) to cover institutional sales for Korea, Japan, China and Singapore, with perhaps a few more to come, notably in Japan.

Asked about his product strategy, Duhamel reflects that Lombard in Asia saw some success in 2011 in hedge funds, convertible bonds and tactical asset allocation. “We will continue with global strategies before we start to become much more aggressive with our Asia strategies in Europe.”

He describes Lombard Odier’s Asia expansion strategy as careful, noting it takes at least three years to build a strong foundation in Asia. “We try to be as countercyclical as we can. I think that is the best way to build a business," he explains.

“When I look at 2012 I suspect it will be challenging, but for us it is a great opportunity to pick up talent that it might be more difficult to do at another time.”