James Campion has left New Star Asset Management in Hong Kong because the firm has decided not to pursue the retail market in Taiwan in favour of maintaining a purely institutional business in the region.

In a letter to clients and business partners, Campion writes, ôI joined with the aim of building up the Asian retail mutual fund business for New Star but, more recently, there has been a shift in strategy at New Star which will result in a greater focus on the wholesale institutional market. As a result, we have agreed that I will leave New Star. These discussions have been entirely amicable and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the local team during this periodàNew Star and I have always aimed to deliver superior long-term performance and client service. I am extremely confident that you will continue to receive a high standard of service following my departure.ö

Robert Page, marketing director at New Star in London, says CampionÆs role had been head of the Hong Kong office, while Diccon Martin continues to serve as regional director for Asia there. He says the firm never had an intention to enter TaiwanÆs retail market, although the firm does sell pooled funds to institutions, segregated accounts and private banks. Nor did the firm ever register any funds there. ôSo you canÆt say weÆve pulled out of Taiwan, as we were never there.ö He adds that the firm continues to explore opportunities throughout Asia.

The firm has become a successful retail player in its native United Kingdom, where it has built a business selling through independent financial advisers. But that required a massive investment, and New Star believes that the resources to play this game on someone elseÆs turf would be too great to make the effort worthwhile.

But sources familiar with the firm say it had in fact begun forging distribution agreements in Taiwan and had a series of mutual funds in the process of registration onshore. But in the end it decided the costs of service, support and customizing European-based products to suit local regulation would be too great, particularly for a market û unlike the UK û where people buy funds as a pure investment without regard for tax incentives.

Campion joined New Star in mid-2004 after having served at Schroder Investment Management for 11 years, where his last role was to run the retail funds business for Hong Kong. He says he intends to remain in the region and in the funds industry. ôI enjoy what I do and thereÆs a hell of a lot of work still to be done in Asia,ö he says.