Manulife Aset Manajemen Indonesia has appointed Melinda Wiria as head of institutional sales. Based in Jakarta, Wiria is expected to drive the fund house's business development efforts with Indonesian pension funds, endowments, foundations and insurance firms, while at the same time overseeing client servicing.

Wiria's new role is in line with Manulife Aset Manajemen Indonesia's efforts to become a major player in the local institutional market. MFC Global Investment Management considers Indonesia among its key growth markets in Asia.

Wiria was previously with Fortis Investments in Indonesia, where she was in charge of institutional sales. Her replacement at Fortis has not yet been named. Now she reports to Raymond Gin, CIO of Manulife in Indonesia.

Caleb Wong, Hong Kong-based head of institutional sales and marketing for Southeast Asia at MFC Global Investment Management, says Manulife Aset Manajemen Indonesia's links with a regional fund house will serve as an advantage when trying to attract institutional clients. MFC Global manages about $240 billion worldwide, including around $17 billion in Asia.

"Given the current economic environment, institutional investors in Asia are increasingly turning to asset managers with firm roots in the region's territories, a long history of Asian investment expertise and recognised financial strength," says Wong.

Manulife in Indonesia offers institutional investors a wide range of local fixed income and equity strategies, sharia-compliant products and capital preservation products. The fund was AsianInvestor's pick for 2009 onshore investment house of the year in Indonesia.

Michael Dommermuth, Hong Kong-based head of Asia investments at MFC Global, says Indonesia is among the markets that are expected to contribute significantly to the fund house's bottom line growth.

"I know there are other markets that are very seriously attracting global asset managers. Indonesia is probably the last one they think about. But for me, Indonesia is pretty special," says Dommermuth, who heads MFC Global's business in the region.

Manulife Aset Manajemen Indonesia was formed in 1996. Growth was slow at first, but then the mutual fund market began to build and develop over the years.

Dommermuth credits Gin and his team for the fund's growth and track record in that market. On an annualised basis, Gin and his team have delivered 580 basis points in outperformance compared with the benchmark, over the past five years, Dommermuth says.