Liu Fangsheng, an active equity portfolio manager at Barclays Global Investors in Tokyo, has left to join arch-rival State Street Global Advisors to lead the firm's active equities team.

He reports now to SSgA's Japan CIO, Hideki Takayama, and will run a five-person team. The move represents a localization of SSgA's Japan equities strategies, which previously have been designed from a team of analysts in Boston.

Liu's brief will cover all active equities strategies, from long-only Topix or MSCI benchmark mandates to more quant-driven alternative strategies in long/short and market-neutral plays.

"I want to strengthen this team to make Tokyo the centre of excellence for modelling all Japanese active equity strategies," says Takayama. Noting the Boston team has an advanced research centre whose analysts devise ideas for SSgA's investment managers worldwide, he says Tokyo is now charged with coming up with more of its own trading concepts.

"The local team understands the market mechanisms and this generates insights," Takayama says. He adds the Boston team will still review Tokyo-sourced ideas and contribute its own.

The firm liked Liu for his quantitative background. "He will introduce more discipline," Takayama says. "More risk control means more alpha generation."

The role is not new, but it is young; Takayama himself has led the active equities team as part of his CIO duties since joining the firm at the start of the year.

This is the second time that Liu has worked under Takayama. Prior to running BGI's market-neutral Japan fund for a year and a half, he was a long-only manager at Credit Suisse Asset Management, where Takayama was also CIO at the time.