Robeco’s China chief departs

The Dutch asset manager is looking for a replacement following the exit of its head of China distribution at the end of March.
Robeco’s China chief departs

The executive merry-go-round continues in China’s funds industry: the head of Robeco’s Shanghai-based business, Mitchelle Zhou, has moved on after just 18 months with the Dutch asset manager.

She resigned with effect from March 27, a spokesman for the firm told AsianInvestor.

“China is a key strategic investment for Robeco," he added. "In light of Mitchelle’s departure, Robeco has started the process of finding a replacement.”

Mitchelle Zhou

Zhou had joined in October 2018 from BlackRock as head of China distribution and general manager of Robeco’s wholly foreign-owned enterprise in Shanghai, which was set up in 2016.

Pending a replacement, Graham Elliot, Hong Kong-based head of Asia ex-Japan distribution, will work more closely with the team in Shanghai to support the commercial activities in mainland China, the spokesman said.

Zhou had been expected to help boost Robeco’s institutional expertise and client base. Three-quarters (77%) of the firm’s Asian assets under management comprised institutional money as of October 2018.

Zhou had been a director on BlackRock’s China institutional client team since November 2015 and left the US fund house in July 2018.

She could not be reached for comment.

But Zhou seems unlikely to be short of job offers given the hunger for asset management industry experience in both mainland China and Hong Kong.

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign fund managers are working to build out their mainland businesses, and Chinese groups such as CPIC and Ping An are moving to establish overseas investment management operations, starting in Hong Kong.

Moreover, foreign and domestic asset managers in China are considering how best to respond to the April 1 rule change that allows offshore players to take full ownership of local fund operations.

For foreign players, the key question is whether to take full control of existing joint ventures, set up their own operation or stick with or establish new JVs. Meanwhile, domestic players must decide whether to keep playing in a developing industry or team up with or sell out to wealthy foreign rivals.  

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