Pioneer Investments has hired Gokhan Unal to a new position as head of institutional, Middle East and Asia. He reports to Paul Price, London-based global head of institutional business at Pioneer.

Price and Unal worked together at MFS Investment Management û Price in London, Unal in Bahrain, where he was senior vice president and head of distribution for the Middle East and Asia, as well as a member of MFSÆ management committee for institutional advisors. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the institutional market.

Pioneer has registered its business in Bahrain and is now actively recruiting for that office. Unal will be responsible for institutional business in Asia as well, while Edmund Lacis will continue to oversee the wholesale side from Hong Kong and Angelo Corbetta acts as the most senior executive in East Asia, as head of portfolio management in Singapore.

Price says UnalÆs role is newly created, but was envisaged two years ago when Pioneer drew up a strategy for Asia and the Middle East. ôWeÆve been slow and patient,ö Price says.

Pioneer, a wholly owned subsidiary of UniCredito Italiano, manages Ç229 billion ($323 billion) as of end August. Asia still remains a small part of that business, accounting for around $10 billion of sourced assets, but has grown 60-70% over the past two years. It has also just signed a joint venture agreement with IndiaÆs Bank of Baroda, as reported on AsianInvestor.net on 7 October.

Pioneer is basing its supra-Asian activities from Bahrain mainly because thatÆs where Unal is located, and because Price and Unal are comfortable with BahrainÆs regulators, although Price says the firm may put someone in Dubai as well. For now this office will handle distribution and client servicing, but not investments. Its long-only Asian investments are run from Singapore.

The India JV will develop local investment capabilities; moreover, Price expects to do a lot of recruiting in India for the groupÆs worldwide needs. ôBusiness models depend on execution, and that requires having people like Gokhan who have a network of contacts and enjoy the respect of peers, regulators and clients.ö