BlackRock’s Asia-Pacific chairman Mark McCombe is set to take over as head of key clients across the region following Peter Swarbreck’s retirement.

Industry veteran Swarbreck has worked at BlackRock since 2006, most recently as platinum accounts executive for Asia Pacific and country manager for Hong Kong. He is also a member of the firm’s leadership committee.

Officially Swarbreck is set to leave BlackRock at the end of this year, when McCombe will become head of key clients for the region in addition to his present duties. It is understood Swarbreck’s role as country manager for Hong Kong is one that will not be replaced.

“He [McCombe] has been closely involved with BlackRock’s key clients and as he is located in Hong Kong it makes sense for him to take on these responsibilities,” says a source.

A spokeswoman for BlackRock confirms that key client relationships in Australia will be managed by Justin Arter, the country head there. In Japan they are already handled by country head Masato Degawa and senior client strategist Hiro Arita.

“BlackRock thanks Mr Swarbreck for his significant contribution to the firm,” the spokeswoman adds in a statement.

During his seven years at BlackRock Swarbreck has held various roles, including head of the Asia Pacific region. In this he was responsible for its regional retail business ex-Japan.

However, things changed once the US-based asset manager completed its acquisition of Barclays Global Investors in December 2009.

BlackRock appointed Rohit Bhagat, who had been global chief operating officer at BGI, as its new chairman and managing director for Asia Pacific.

And in 2010 he reassigned Swarbreck to platinum accounts executive for Asia Pacific and country manager for Hong Kong.

When McCombe came on board to replace Bhagat at the end of last year he made retail sales one of his priorities.

BlackRock has subsequently moved to revamp its Asia distribution team, relocating Chang Lin-Yun from Taipei to Hong Kong a few months ago as head of retail for Asia ex-Japan. In September it also transferred Heather Pelant from the US to Hong Kong to serve as head of retail sales for Hong Kong, Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Lavin Mok, who had joined BlackRock from EdRam in December 2010 as head of retail sales for Hong Kong and Singapore, has left, AsianInvestor understands.

Swarbreck joined BlackRock after its merger with Merrill Lynch Investment Managers in 2006. At MLIM he had been head of fixed income business management for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, responsible for the development of new fixed income products.

Beteeen 1990 and 2002 he had worked for Mercury Asset Management, subsequently part of MLIM, where he worked in business development and client relationship management.