US-based fund house Neuberger Berman has made two senior hires to help sell its range of newly registered retail products in Hong Kong and Singapore.

It recently had a selection of its offshore funds* approved for retail distribution in Asia – 11 in Hong Kong and three in Singapore – and is seeking approval for the rest of the range.

Moreover, Marco Tang is understood to be joining Neuberger from Baring Asset Management as head of retail sales in Hong Kong and China. He is said to be on gardening leave until the end of this month. 

At Barings, Tang was head of mutual fund distribution for Hong Kong, China and Singapore, a post he took up in May last year. The UK firm is believed to be seeking a replacement. He has also worked for JP Morgan Asset Management as head of intermediary business, and in sales roles at Allianz Global Investors, HSBC Global Asset Management and Jardine Fleming Unit Trusts.

Meanwhile, Katherine Low joined Neuberger in Singapore this month to head retail sales, moving from BlackRock, where she was vice president for retail sales. She left on March 31, having been with the firm since December 2007. It is understood that her replacement is not yet on board.

Neuberger manages $21 billion across its Ireland Ucits range, with around 40% of those assets invested by Asia-based clients, fairly evenly spread across Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. The firm had $242 billion in AUM as of December 31.

The most popular of Neuberger’s product suite in Asia are the US high-yield and US high-yield short duration funds, along with the US multi- and smallcap and US Reit products, says Nick Hoar, Hong Kong-based head of Asia Pacific.

Neuberger decided to submit most of the fund range for retail approval in Hong Kong. In Singapore it had received requests from a couple of distributors in Singapore to make three available in particular, says Hoar. Other distributors are also showing interest, he adds.

The firm had previously focused on selling to institutions and private banks, and has had significant success in doing so.

Some fund executives have argued that the fund passporting schemes being developed for Asia could render the Ucits structure less important in the region. 

Hoar is sanguine about this. “Luxembourg and Dublin offshore funds have a place in most portfolios, and some of the local Asian fund structures do as well,” he says. “But I don’t see any of these new domiciles, such as Hong Kong mutual recognition, replacing traditional offshore funds any time soon.”

That said, Neuberger is keeping a close eye on passporting developments, like its peers, says Hoar, but doesn’t plan to make any moves until the rules are finalised.

* The funds in Hong Kong are: Neuberger Berman High Yield Bond Fund; Neuberger Berman US Large Cap Growth Fund; Neuberger Berman US Multi-Cap Opportunities Fund; Neuberger Berman Global Disciplined Growth Fund; Neuberger Berman US Real Estate Securities Fund; Neuberger Berman China Equity Fund; Neuberger Berman Global Equity Income Fund; Neuberger Berman Emerging Markets Equity Fund; Neuberger Berman US Small Cap Fund; Neuberger Berman Short Duration High Yield Bond Fund; and Neuberger Berman Global Bond Fund.

The funds in Singapore are: Neuberger Berman High Yield Bond Fund; Neuberger Berman US Multi-Cap Opportunities Fund; and Neuberger Berman Short Duration High Yield Bond Fund.