Asia-based financial search firm Global Sage has moved to tie up with London-headquartered The Rose Partnership in what it bills as a quest for global domination.

The two houses, which both focus on asset management and wealth management, have signed a letter of intent to merge, which is expected to occur next year after corporate restructuring.

John Wright, Hong Kong-based head of Global Sage, says no financial transaction has taken place yet. He suspects the firms will merge under one holding company and retain their own corporate identities, although plans are unformed at this stage.

He confirms he has been scouring the globe in the search for partners and has been involved in many discussions, but saw an entry opportunity after ex-client Peter Redhead, who was Asia head of equity research for JP Morgan, joined The Rose Partnership as CEO last year.

“This is a merger of equals in my view,” he tells AsianInvestor, even though Global Sage is the bigger firm. “For the next 12 months we will focus on building our clients and restructuring our corporation to be able to merge.”

The plan is to leverage each others’ capabilities in their respective home markets, with the handful of Hong Kong-based Rose staff uniting in the Global Sage office, while the latter’s 15-strong team do the same with Rose in London.

“What it will do is allow us to serve our Asian clients who are interested in expanding into Europe, and European clients who are interested in expanding into Asia,” says Wright.

He notes that Global Sage has been moving Asian talent into North America, Europe and the Middle East, where sovereign wealth funds and real money players are after portfolio managers. Most activity in Asian asset management has been of the merry-go-round sort, he adds.

Asked if there was movement from Europe and the US into Asia, Wright says that is largely limited to internal company moves.

“The name of the game in asset management is distribution,” he states. “Everybody is trying to sweep up assets, whether in private banking or asset management. It is all about getting the people with relationships together with those with pools of money to tap into, and that is not something you can import.”

Global Sage is working with three sovereign wealth funds – one in each of Europe, the Middle East and Asia – chiefly building out their private equity and internal equity management capabilities.

The Rose Partnership was set up by Philippa Rose in 1981. It now has a team of around 30-35 professionals in London, and 5-6 in Hong Kong.

Global Sage is an Asia-based organisation founded in 1998. It has a worldwide team of about 130, with bases in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Johannesburg, London and New York. It also has rep offices in Los Angeles, Boston, Singapore and Seoul.

This tie-up comes after Global Sage announced an equity alliance with Chinese firm Bó Lé Associates, adding an estimated 500 staff and a presence in 10 cities in mainland China.

Asked about what might be the next step for Global Sage, Wright points to the Americas, suggesting the firm will be looking for similar tie-up arrangements to extend its global reach.

“It is about global domination,” he says, a little tongue-in-cheek. “Our intention is to take on Heidrick & Struggles and Korn Ferry because size really does matter.”