When Tony Archer informed Blair Pickerell of his intention to quit Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Pickerell knew where to turn.

Archer reportedly decided to leave the firm about three months ago to establish Asian operations for American Century Investments, a $70 billion asset management firm. He left on good terms and insiders and third parties agree he was a positive force at MSIM -- but he hankered after a more boutique atmosphere.

The obvious replacement for Pickerell, MSIM's Asia CEO, was Sandra Lee, who had worked with Pickerell at two previous roles, at JF Asset Management (now part of JP Morgan Asset Management; in fact he had hired her, and then she left for Franklin Templeton when he moved to Jardine Matheson, and then rejoined JF when he returned to run it) and then at HSBC Investments, when he served as its CEO.

Lee joins MSIM from Societe Generale Corporate and Investment Bank, where she had served as China CEO for its client solutions group as well as for global equities and derivatives solutions for investors.

Sandra Lee will slot into the same role Archer had held: as managing director and head of sales and marketing in Asia, including Australia and Japan (home to Morgan Stanley's strategic shareholder, MUFG). She began yesterday and is responsible for institutional and intermediary product sales, including MSIM's alternative investment strategies.

Meanwhile, Archer has taken on a newly created position as business head for Asia-Pacific at American Century, which is opening its first office in the region, in Hong Kong.

American Century Investments specialises in offering clients and investors actively managed equity strategies. Through the new Asian enterprise, the firm will focus on delivering its equity growth strategies -- global growth, emerging markets and US growth equities -- to institutions and financial intermediaries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Archer will report to Michael Green, London-based senior vice-president of international business. Before joining MSIM, Archer was CEO at Axa Rosenberg Asia-Pacific and Japan, with direct responsibility for Australia and New Zealand.

American Century, which is headquartered in Kansas City and also has investment professionals in New York and Mountain View, California, established its international business just last year.