Continuing its Asian expansion, Manulife subsidiary MFC Global Investment Management has created the role of head of North Asia institutional sales and hired Edwina Ho to fill it.

Having started in Hong Kong on March 22, Ho will drive MFC's business development efforts with central banks, sovereign wealth and pension funds, quasi-government organisations, insurance companies and major corporations in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan.

She will also lead the company's first foray into the institutional market in South Korea.

The company says it is looking to have a dedicated institutional sales professional on-the-ground in Taiwan and expects to make further local hires in North Asia over the next year.

Ho was previously head of institutional business at Macquarie Funds in Hong Kong. Prior to that, she held senior institutional sales positions in the investment-management divisions of ING and Citi in Hong Kong and has managed institutional sales and marketing for Goldman Sachs Asset Management in Hong Kong and Singapore.

MFC is working on several mandates in the region, says Ho, who adds that her main near-term focus is on Asian fixed income and Asian equity. In the medium to longer term, the firm will be looking at "more aggressive" alternatives strategies, including agricultural investments.

The company is certainly set to make inroads into China. Ho's appointment follows the November announcement that Manulife is to buy a 49% stake in Beijing-based asset manager ABN Amro Teda, and she says MFC expects to receive its QFII quota in the first half.

Avere Hill, regional head of institutional sales and marketing at MFC GIM in Hong Kong, says: "China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea alone account for nearly $10 trillion in institutional assets and the creation of this new North Asia institutional sales role is in direct recognition of the enormous potential of this part of the region."