Morgan Stanley Capital International has found a replacement for John Fildes, who departed Hong Kong last autumn to take a position in Morgan Stanley Dean Witter’s e-commerce group in Europe. And just in time, because the new MSCI director, Tim Kay, will face renewed pressure from rival FTSE, which will announce later this week the appointment of Michael Lim to head its Hong Kong office.

In the game of index vending, MSCI has a clear lead in the Asia Pacific region. Several index fund managers and consultants say the FTSE indices are often better – FTSE has been well ahead of MSCI in adjusting its indices for free floats, for example – but never marketed itself effectively in the Far East. By putting Lim in Hong Kong, some observers believe it marks a new effort by FTSE to compete.

Kay joins MSCI from BNP Paribas Asset Management, where he served as director of business development for the region, coming initially from Banque National de Paris. Kay was travelling and couldn’t be reached for comment. Officials at BNP Paribas say no replacement has been found. Kay starts at MSCI in early March.

Michael Lim comes to Hong Kong from his role as director of investor services at rival Standard &Poor’s in Singapore, where he had run S&P’s regional sales team. Sources there report S&P is still looking for a replacement. Lim was also travelling and unavailable for comment, and officials at FTSE in Hong Kong declined to talk beyond confirming Lim’s imminent appointment.