Merrill Lynch’s former regional chairman Raymundo Yu has come out of retirement to become Asia-Pacific chairman at Threadneedle in what is a newly created role.

“They have a compelling story and an outstanding track record of funds performance,” Yu says of the asset manager, adding he was approached by Threadneedle this past spring.

Based in Singapore, he will represent both UK-based Threadneedle and its American affiliate, Columbia Asset Management.

Both are units of US-based Ameriprise Financial, a large financial planning group, with Columbia responsible for cross-selling both firms’ products in North America and Threadneedle for the rest of the world.

Yu reports to Threadneedle CEO Crispin Henderson and operates out of Threadneedle’s registered office in Singapore. The firm has had its Singapore office since 2008.

In a recent interview with AsianInvestor, Henderson said the firm had been a beneficiary of the financial crisis and was looking to bring its long-only, active management style to Asian clients, as well as to boost its regional investment capabilities.

Yu notes that he brings a new set of skills and experience to the asset manager, thanks to a background encompassing wealth management, investment management, investment banking and capital markets.

He was former Asia-Pacific chairman of Merrill Lynch from 2000 until the bank was sold to Bank of America in 2008.

His task will be to align Threadneedle better with Asian institutional investors, family offices and wholesale distributors, and to take a wider look at the firm’s Asia strategy.

That may include identifying ways to bring parent Ameriprise’s financial planning capabilities to the region, he says. London-based Henderson has also said the firm is on the lookout for acquisitions in the region.

The $103 billion Threadneedle has come out of the global financial crisis well as more clients want high-alpha, active long-only strategies, Henderson claimed: “Passive investing is not providing enough performance; indexing has peaked. At our size, we’d seem to be the ones to get squeezed, but it’s the beta-plus mega-shops and the boutiques that are suffering.”

Threadneedle is seeking to grow market share in Asia and the Middle East by offering active management in equities, fixed income and real estate.

The firm is also starting to manage commodities products via securities and futures. Today its real-estate arm is just focused on British property, and the firm would like to extend its expertise to other markets.