US fund house Neuberger Berman has hired Jovi Chen from BlackRock as its new general manager for Taiwan and applied for a securities investment trust enterprise (Site) licence with a view to expanding its onshore business. 

Chen started work yesterday (January 18) at the $240 billion asset manager. He will supervise the Taiwanese business with the help of Emma Chen and Tony Huang, the two founding members of Neuberger Berman Taiwan.

Chen replaces Johnny Wong, who left Neuberger Berman in July to join US firm Pioneer Investments as general manager for Taiwan, as reported. Nick Hoar, Asia-Pacific head at Neuberger, assumed Wong's responsibilities in the interim.

Two others also left Neuberger Berman for Pioneer in July: David Huang, a former channel sales executive, and Faith Wang, a former member of the marketing team. They have been replaced by external hires, but the firm declined to identify the new individuals.

Before joining Neuberger Berman, Chen had been head of BlackRock’s Taiwan retail client solutions group since 2010. He was responsible for product and market research and provided clients with investment solutions. BlackRock is seeking a replacement.

Neuberger Berman set up a sales presence in Taiwan in October 2012 and has seen its AUM grow since then to $1.53 billion sourced from local clients as of end-2015.

Of the 13 employees in Taipei, eight are client-facing, covering institutional investors and fund distributors, while the remaining five look after marketing and legal/compliance.

Hoar didn’t name any of the firm’s institutional investors or distributors in Taiwan, but said retail accounted for about 80% of Neuberger’s client base in AUM in Taiwan and institutions 20%.

Neuberger Berman can only sell overseas-domiciled fixed income and equity funds in Taiwan, but has applied for a Site licence, which would allow it to manufacture and distribute funds locally. Hoar said it would launch equity and fixed income products once it had obtained the approval.

Having Chen, a local industry veteran, in place will help the fund house boost its Taiwan business, he told AsianInvestor. “As we continue to broaden and deepen our client base in Taiwan, it is important that we have experienced professionals with local expertise to provide the best possible service to them."

Chen has also served as senior vice president at China Securities Investment Consulting Enterprise, assistant vice president at Capital Site, fund manager at HSBC Global Asset Management (Taiwan) and senior assistant manager at KGI Securities.