As first reported late last year by AsianInvestor, UK-based M&G Investments has been building a sales presence in Asia, with Andrew Hendry heading the region out of Singapore.

The fund house obtained its incorporation in Hong Kong yesterday and will be setting up an office and hiring a relationship manager. It hopes to have someone in place within a few months.

This will add to the five staff it already has in Singapore’s Marina Bay Financial Centre. The aim is to have a team of seven there in the coming months, with the main regional focus on distribution to private banks.

“We focus on the quality of the team rather than the quantity,” says Hendry.

The firm will certainly need high-quality staff if it is to build its brand in Asia, with Hendry admitting M&G isn’t well known in the region. But he expects to leverage both its strong relationships with global distributors – private banks in particular – and media coverage to raise its regional profile. M&G is also talking to other distributors in the region to create new partnerships.

Part of UK insurance group Prudential, M&G has £201 billion ($311 billion) in assets under management across equity, bond, multi-asset and property portfolios for both individual and institutional clients.

As for the firm’s choice of Singapore as a regional headquarters, Hendry says Hong Kong is equally important as a client base. “But from a practical standpoint we have to start somewhere,” he says. “By this time next year both entities will be equally significant.”

Hendry is not looking at developing business in markets beyond these two in Asia for the foreseeable future.

In terms of products M&G has a range of UK- and Europe-focused funds; funds focused on Asia, emerging markets, international sovereign bonds, Japan and North America; and a series of global funds, such as a convertible bond product and a dividend fund.

Hendry says the plan is to bring tried-and-tested product to Asia rather than “experimenting with clients’ money” by developing new funds for the region.

M&G is better known for its equity offerings, he notes, but its AUM is fairly evenly split between equity and fixed-income products, whether broad mandates or European credit.

“Although in the headline news you see a lot of negativity about European credit, our clients are actually allocating more to European credit,” adds Hendry, “both on the corporate and government side.”

Hendry joined M&G in May 2011 as managing director of Asia and officially relocated to Singapore from London in December. Before coming on board, he worked in Los Angeles, Geneva and Singapore for asset manager Capital International, where he was responsible for global distribution relationships.

M&G is not the only UK asset manager moving to build a presence in Asia. Legal & General Investment Management is also looking at doing so, but is at an earlier stage in the process than M&G.