Acquisitive fund house Nikko Asset Management is eyeing potential expansion opportunities in Asia and is planning a global multi-asset rollout, its newly anointed executive chairman, David Semaya, tells AsianInvestor.

Semaya joined the $170 billion Japanese fund firm this April as non-executive chairman based in London amid a management reshuffle, as reported. At the start of this month he relocated to Tokyo to take up the executive chairman role.

He will focus on governance issues and liaise with fellow directors on the board and company shareholders, while also contributing to the firm’s strategic thinking as a veteran with more than 25 years’ industry experience.

Nikko Asset Management has offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka in Japan; Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand; and operates joint ventures in China, India and Malaysia. Outside of Asia it has bases in London, New York and Edinburgh.

Asked whether the firm planned to take greater ownership of its JV in Malaysia following deregulation there, or even launch a wholly owned foreign enterprise in China, Semaya said it was happy with the status quo and performance of its JV partners.

But he stressed that Nikko Asset Management wanted to continue to expand its on-the-ground presence in Asia, reiterating a message voiced by global CEO and chairman Charles Beazley in 2012, as reported.

Asked which markets it found interesting, Semaya pointed to Taiwan and Indonesia among others. “We would be interested if an opportunity presented itself to do more,” he said. “In one way or another we are looking at opportunities.

“We have a product set and investment capabilities now that are applicable not just to Japanese markets, but to all markets around the world. We are in a position to compete on a global basis.”

Nikko AM is acquisitive. Its prominent purchases include Tyndall Investments in Australia and New Zealand and DBS Asset Management in Singapore and Hong Kong. It has also bought and inherited stakes in other businesses.

On the question of fund passporting in Asia Pacific, Semaya said Nikko AM had spent time studying the arrangements, including the recently launched Asean framework, although at this stage it had no concrete plans to announce.

But he did note that the firm has been investing in its multi-asset capabilities, having recently moved to form an 18-strong portfolio management team in Singapore under Al Clark, as reported.

“Watch this space,” said Semaya of its multi-asset team that now manages $24 billion for institutional and wholesale clients.

“We are starting to launch a yen-based multi-asset capability in Japan and you will see two-to-three more ideas that we will launch globally. We will be differentiating ourselves and are thinking about tilts in different areas.”

Prior to joining Nikko AM, Semaya served as a corporate adviser to Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Japan. He spent nine years with UK bank Barclays, including three years with Barclays Global Investors Trust in Tokyo.

He also worked for more than a decade with Merrill Lynch, including as president of its investment management business in Japan.