Sandeep Singh has moved to Kuala Lumpur to head Franklin Templeton Asset Management (Malaysia). He takes over from Stephen Grundlingh, who has been overseeing the Malaysian operations from Singapore in his capacity as the firm's Southeast Asia regional head.

Singh's responsibilities include building Franklin Templeton's local investment management team and securing mandates from institutional investors, including government organisations, state enterprises, local asset managers and insurance companies.

Singh, who reports to Grundlingh, relocated to Kuala Lumpur from Franklin Templeton's office in Mumbai, India, where he was the national sales director. He has more than 14 years of experience in the asset management industry.

Franklin Templeton Asset Management (Malaysia) is the fifth fund house to be awarded a capital markets services licence by the Malaysian Securities Commission. It joins Aberdeen Asset Management, Nomura Asset Management, BNP Paribas Asset Management and Credit Agricole Asset Management with on-the-ground operations that cater to institutional investors in Malaysia. The local presence also allows Franklin Templeton to expand its sub-advisory and feeder fund business in the local market.

The fund house expects Malaysia will become a key contributor to its business in Southeast Asia. Malaysia is already its second biggest market in the region next to Singapore in terms of assets. Franklin Templeton currently manages global and Asian equity, global balanced and global fixed-income portfolios for Malaysian institutions in the form of segregated and sub-advisory mandates as well as feeder funds for retail clients.

"Malaysia is well positioned to weather the global economic downturn as the government has been very responsive, having unveiled a large economic stimulus plan to maintain the country's position as one of Southeast Asia's leading economies," Singh says. "We are very encouraged by the Malaysian government's strong commitment to develop its asset management industry as well as the sophisticated and progressive regulatory and legal environment it has established in the financial sector.

So far, the fund house has a staff of three on-the-ground, including one compliance officer and one analyst. The initial plan is to have up to five locally recruited staff in the Kuala Lumpur office, a number that is expected to grow as the fund house builds its business in the local market. The fund house will offer a full range of global investment capabilities.

Franklin Templeton is looking into the possibility of applying for an Islamic fund management license in Malaysia someday, but that is not a top priority at the moment. The main focus is to build its conventional asset management business in the local market.