Citic Capital, the re-branded investment banking business of Citic Ka Wah Bank and Cargary Securities in Hong Kong, has assembled a team of experienced bankers and fund managers to back its ambitions in asset management. It is a unit of red chip China International Trust and Investment Corporation.

The latest edition is fund manager Yeh Ching-ju, who has joined from Pacific Capital Management, where she had worked for Randy Kwai. Her CV includes working at TCW under Terry Mahoney until that operation closed, and before that running emerging market portfolios at HSBC Asset Management.

Other recent appointments include Melody Wang as director of product and business development. Wang, formerly in Bank of China International's investment banking operation, will handle client relationships and origination for the institutional and high-net worth asset management business. Previously this function had been shared by Citic Capital's co-heads, Zhang Hai-tao, the former CIO at China's State Administration for Foreign Exchange (Safe), and William Choy, who's been with the Citic organization. Now they will be able to focus on managing portfolios full time.

Other fund managers include Tony Zhang, who joined last year, and more recently David Ding, who had managed fixed income for Safe, and Eric Xin, who will spearhead the firm's private equity business.

The new head of research is CY Ho, who had left Bank of China International following his controversial report questioning Hong Kong's currency peg to the US dollar.

Although the institutional and high-net worth market is the firm's main target, it is also making a splash on the retail front. It has partnered with Banc One and is now launching its first mutual fund in Hong Kong, a bond fund investing in US mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries.

Initially distribution will be driven by Ka Wah Bank, but Citic Capital is in discussions with other potential partners about either selling Citic Capital funds or manufacturing product for other financial institutions, says Wang.

But the main focus of Citic's asset management business is hedge funds and other alternative investments aimed at the institutional or high-net worth market. These portfolios will mainly target China-related opportunities, often sourcing ideas from Citic's investment banking and securities businesses in the mainland.

Similarly, Citic Capital's clientele largely derives from relationships that Citic Securities or other arms of Citic have with both Chinese and foreign companies and individuals, both in the mainland and abroad. "We have to know what our investors want," Wang says.