Principal Global Investors has established an emerging-markets equities portfolio manager in Singapore for the first time. Michael Marusiak has recently transferred there from the firm's Des Moines, Iowa headquarters.

The Singapore office originally belonged to BT, which was then acquired and sold again by Principal, but it kept the Singapore office. It has not had any portfolio managers in the region until now, however.

Marusiak explains the move was to shore up a new dedicated Asian equity product, which was launched late last year; Asia also makes up over 50% of the emerging markets universe.

"Being closer to the markets and companies will result in better information flows and insights about these markets," he says. The firm does have two investment analysts in Singapore already. Marusiak is also a telecoms analyst.

His presence in Asia will also help the firm market its expertise to potential clients, he adds. Principal International has interests in pensions and asset management around the region and Marusiak's presence can help it cooperate with various regional firms and organizations. For example, it is advising China's National Social Security Fund.

The emerging markets and Asian equities products currently comprise of $450 million under management. The team Marusiak represents also manages a similar amount of Asian investments on behalf of the core international and international small-cap products managed in Des Moines.

Marusiak reports to Rollie Woltjen, head of Principal Global Investors' equities department, who is based in Des Moines. There is one other emerging markets/Asian equities portfolio manager, Mike Reynal, who is also in Iowa. Prior to joining Principal in 2000, Marusiak was an analyst for Trust Company of the West, where he specialized in East European and telecom companies.