NewFinance Capital, a wholly owned unit of Schroder Investment Management specialising in funds of hedge funds, has set up an office in Hong Kong and transferred one of its executives from London to research Asia-based managers.

NewFinance was founded in 2002 by Marc Hotimsky, formerly head of global fixed income at Credit Suisse, and Georges Saier, previous head of proprietary trading at JPMorgan. It began with $40 million in a multi-strategy fund of hedge funds, but has grown to $5 billion invested across nine products, half of which are multi-strategy, and the other half in eight specialist strategies.

The firm was acquired by Schroders last year, and took over SchrodersÆ own, smaller fund-of-hedge-funds business. It retains its own brand but serves as SchroderÆs hedge fund arm.

Thor Monsen has moved from London to Hong Kong to oversee NewFinanceÆs research operations around the region. He joined the firm in 2004 after a career at another London-based fund of hedge funds, Atlas Capital. NewFinanceÆs marketing effort in Asia Pacific will continue to be handled out of London, but the firm will also rely on SchrodersÆ local distribution network.

Monsen explains the growth of Asia-focused hedge funds warrants a presence on the ground. There are now 900 hedge funds with such a focus, many of them located in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan. ôItÆs a great advantage to be here, rather than just spending a few days here at a time every few months,ö Monsen says. ôHere IÆm more in the loop, I meet people for lunch and dinner, I hear the rumours. ItÆs a small world in Hong Kong and people know each other.ö

Of NewFinanceÆs $5 billion of assets, around $400 million is dedicated to Asia hedge funds, although exposures to global strategies make the firmÆs commitment to Asia hedge funds greater. In relative terms, Monsen believes this will increase, as the region continues to attract dedicated pools of capital, and as the expanding universe of hedge funds helps develop local capital markets.