Putnam Investments, the storied Boston-based money manager founded in 1937, is preparing its first retail business in Asia.

Jeff Peters, senior managing director and head of its international (ex-North America) business in Boston, says the firm is completing distribution arrangements in Taiwan for a line of Cayman Island- and Dublin-based mutual funds.

Putnam is expanding activity in Asia now partly because these markets now have reached a critical mass of size and growth, because their investors are increasingly demanding non-domestic exposures, and because PutnamÆs businesses in Japan and Europe have attained a self-sustaining level that allows the firm to dedicate resources to new markets.

The firm, which manages $190 billion, of which $34 billion is sourced from outside North America, has had a presence in Japan since the early 1990s. It has an exclusive partnership with, and a minority stake in, Nissay Asset Management, the $13 billion funds management arm of Nippon Life Insurance. Putnam provides global non-Japan investment expertise, while Nissay provides distribution and client service. That business is split between pension and retail clientele.

Putnam offers a range of asset classes to Japanese clients, including fundamental equities as well as quantitative equity strategies via its subsidiary Panagora Asset Management, in which Nissay has a minority stake. The firm also highlights its expertise in fixed income and currencies.

Jesse Huang has been marketing Putnam to institutional investors in Asia ex-Japan. The Taiwan native divides his time between Boston and Asia, but the firm does not yet have bricks and mortar in the region. Most of his time has been in markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and China.

Peters, who has run the firmÆs non-North America businesses for five years, says the firm is considering whether it will need to establish an office in Asia ex-Japan to support the growing business, which now sources about $1 billion from clients.

The firm also relies on the presence of its parent, insurer Marsh & McLennan, for helping service Asian clients.

Marsh & McLennan has been widely reported in the US media to be shopping Putnam for a possible sale.

Peters declined to comment on that, or any impact it could have on PutnamÆs reach in Asia. But he says the firm has the resources by itself to open offices or provide client support in any location.