Nikko AM drafts in new management for Singapore

Eleanor Seet has replaced CEO Deborah Ho following the rebranding of DBS Asset Management as Nikko Asset Management Asia. Other new faces have also come in.
Nikko AM drafts in new management for Singapore

Following the formal completion of Nikko Asset Management’s acquisition of DBS Asset Management in Singapore , the Japan-based firm has hired a new head of the business in the Lion City, along with two other senior staff.

Eleanor Seet has been named president and executive director of Nikko AM Asia – the rebranded DBS AM – to replace chief executive Deborah Ho, who has left after four years at the firm.

Seet is now responsible for running the Nikko AM business in Singapore and Southeast Asia, though she does not have direct experience of running a fund management business.

She was previously senior director for private wealth distribution for Asia ex-Japan for iShares, BlackRock’s exchange-traded funds unit, from June 2009 until August 2010, when she left and was replaced by Suresh Singh. Before that, Seet spent 12 years at US fund manager AllianceBernstein, where she was responsible for developing distribution channels and business.

Seet’s experience suggests she will continue Nikko AM's emphasis on retail markets. Blair Pickerell, head of Asia, cites her background in working with investment intermediaries as a reason for hiring her.

The firm did not respond by press time to queries about why Ho left. Immediately after the acquisition, the former CEO at DBS AM had been given responsibility for the Singapore office and team.

When contacted, Ho declined to make any comment on why she left or any other matter related to the takeover and management changes.

Meanwhile, Nikko AM Asia has also appointed two other senior staff. Teck Keng Neo has become head of middle and back office, and will oversee operations, fund accounting, finance, information technology, middle office and administrative functions.

He will transfer to Singapore from his role as head of operations and disclosure at Nikko AM’s Tokyo headquarters. Before joining Nikko AM in 2005, he spent 11 years at Fidelity Investments in Japan, where he oversaw the operational processes and IT systems.

DBS AM previously had a chief operating officer, Michael Syn Hsien-Min, who in March left to join the Singapore Exchange as head of derivatives.

Nikko AM Asia has named Rodney Lim head of compliance. He joins from UBS Global Asset Management, where he was responsible for compliance and has since been replaced. He previously worked at Citi Global Wealth Management and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Nikko AM did not respond by press time to a question about whom he has replaced.

Lim and Teck have come in to replace the services previously provided by DBS Bank, says a Nikko spokeswoman. But she declined to confirm who held these responsibilities previously.

The changes in Singapore will inevitably raise questions about whether something similar could take place at Tyndall Investments, the Australian firm acquired by Nikko AM late last year.

Nikko AM maintains its approach to acquired businesses is ‘highly decentralised’ and ‘multi-local’, allowing its subsidiaries a high degree of autonomy, but at this juncture no information is available regarding the circumstances of Deborah Ho's exit.

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