Old Mutual Asset Management has hired Miranda Poon in a newly created role as head of institutional sales for Asia, based in Hong Kong.

Poon started in the role on January 2 to drive growth in the business as it sets out on expansion. She reports to Olivier Lebleu, head of non-US distribution based in London.

The firm has a number of sales staff but no investment professionals in Asia at present. It has nine affiliate asset management companies in a multi-boutique approach, although none are based in Asia. Poon will represent them in the region.

Old Mutual Asset Managers (UK) has merged with sister company Skandia Investment Group. SIG's fund company, Skandia Global Funds, has merged with Old Mutual AM and is set to be renamed Old Mutual Global Investors (OMGI) and unveiled in Asia after Chinese New Year. It will have over $20 billion in AUM, with Asia accounting for a little over $1 billion. 

Jane Fung, director of OMGI, confirms that the search has been on for a suitable person to head institutional sales for a while. "It is not a recent decision [to hire someone]," she says.

Old Mutual AM is a subsidiary of Old Mutual Plc, which also has a number of affiliates, including Rogge and Arcadian in Singapore, and Heitman, which has just opened an office in Hong Kong.

Poon was brought under the Hong Kong licence of Skandia Global Funds (soon to be rebranded OMGI). She started her career in asset management under the tutelage of Mark Konyn at Dresdner RCM in the 1990s. She went on to become investment director for business development at Standard Life Investments before moving to Pictet as vice-president of business development for Asia ex-Japan.

Most recently she was director of institutional advisory for North Asia at American Century Investments based in Hong Kong. She left that role at the end of last year.

Her role at American Century Investments has subsequently been split, with the firm having hired former Korean equity analyst CJ Cho in Seoul. It is now seeking someone to fill an institutional advisory role for Greater China.

Its Asia managing director, Tony Archer, tells AsianInvestor it is reviewing a number of candidates and hopes to make an appointment in the first quarter. He says its business development team is referred to as institutional advisory “because that is the way sales has moved in the last 3-4 years”.

Post that hire American Century Investments will have a five-strong team in the region, including Elizabeth Trinh as vice-president of institutional advisory. Her main responsibility is Australia, although she has some Asean clients.

American Century Investments was founded by Jim Stowers in 1958. A chunk of its profits go to finding a cure for gene-based diseases following Stowers' personal battle with cancer. Its focus in Asia is global equities (growth) and emerging market equities (growth), while Archer says its inflation protection strategy is also gathering interest.

The firm has $130 billion globally, of which Asia accounts for a little under $1 billion. “We started in Asia three years ago and we are encouraged by our growth so far,” says Archer. “We are ambitious and we have set out on an organic growth path."